People always say, “Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.” In college, we spend most of our free time trying to discredit that alleged platitude by indulging in anything worthwhile. Being a part of the savage undergraduate demographic means determining which pleasures rest safely under the “too much of a good thing can be wonderful” umbrella.
Before Saturday, I believed one such unabashed pleasure was bacon.
Bacon is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Bacon is God and God is bacon. Bacon makes everything better. If you add bacon to a salad and take away the salad, then you have yourself a pretty damn good salad. Such is the powerful irony of bacon: it makes everything else better because it renders everything else irrelevant.
I’ve often contemplated how much bacon is too much bacon, and if such a limit does, in fact, exist. Could one person eat bacon for an entire day without losing that passionate spark? Would the last piece of bacon induce the same gluttonous euphoria that the first piece did? Or would the tremors and high blood pressure brought on by excess sodium break the heart, physically and emotionally?
Well, bros, self-loathing is a lifestyle. You can’t just say, you must DO. Therefore, I laid out rules for a daylong challenge that I would ultimately base a story on, granted I survived to write about it:
Eat bacon from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Except in cases of emergency, bacon and only bacon can be eaten for the 12-hour duration of the challenge
Should I run out of bacon, I must seek out more bacon by any means necessary. Bacon cannot be substituted
Minimum pace of consumption is two (2) pieces of bacon per hour
That alone is too easy. I’ll be hungrier than a cannibal in a mosh pit if I don’t eat anything else, so pounding at least two pieces of bacon every hour would be no problem. A wild card is needed, something that could inhibit reaching my quota every hour:
Drink Natty Light from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Except in cases of emergency, Natty Light and only Natty Light can be drank for the 12-hour duration of the challenge
Should I run out of Natty Light, I may substitute with only one (1) other brand of beer
Minimum pace of consumption is two (2) Natty Lights per hour
Now it’s difficult enough for it to end up a complete disaster. I go to bed reasonably early Friday night (3:30 a.m.) in eager dread of the day ahead.
Saturday, August 2nd
9:15 a.m.: I am attempting this challenge with less than six hours of sleep under my belt. I hope this doesn’t come back to bite me in the ass once the twilight hours roll around.
9:25: Snooze button #2.
9:35: My phone alarm goes off again and I have 25 minutes to shower, change, and get bacon and beer before hitting the ground running. Yesterday, I was supposed to prepare by purchasing the supplies, eating lightly, and exercising moderately. I did none of those things.
I haven’t touched bacon yet and I already loathe Saturday, August 2.
10:00: I arrive at the Giant right near my house. I peruse the bacon aisle of the frozen foods section. Bacon is preposterously expensive. One pack of Oscar Mayer thick cut bacon goes for $9.99.
Considering the ATM shoots congratulatory confetti in my face every time I withdraw without over drafting, I need to shop smart here. I buy two packs of generic Giant-brand bacon for $6.99 each. There’s a perfect 12 slices of bacon per pack. Is this fate or destiny?
10:11 I hop in the self-checkout line closest to the door. There’s an elderly gentleman in front of me struggling to find the lettuce option on the register computer. I attempt to help him out and speed things up, but alas, I can’t find it either. This delay begs the question again: is this fate or is this destiny?
10:15: A Giant employee kindly comes to our (I’m now fully invested in this senior citizen’s battle with technology over lettuce) rescue and helps him check out the rest of his items. He apologizes for the holdup. I say it’s no problem. We are just two strangers in a supermarket being dishonest with each other.
10:15:30: I finish checking out.
10:30: I arrive at the cheapest liquor store in town and buy one 30-pack of Natural Light. It opened 30 minutes ago, and the only customer here is a 21-year-old wearing a University of Maryland t-shirt, khaki shorts, and flip-flops. How does this look to the woman at the register? What does she think of me?
10:40: Finally, I am ensconced in the environment where I will spend the next 11 hours destroying myself. Twenty minutes is a lot of time to eat two pieces of bacon but not a lot to drink two beers. I pour my first beer into a pint glass for maximum drinkability and throw the first batch of bacon on the stove.
10:47: I sit down with my “meal.” Silver Linings Playbook is on HBO, but I also consider throwing on Sharknado 2. I choose Silver Linings Playbook, which is probably for the best.
10:50: I slaughter my first two pieces of bacon. I anticipate this will be fairly simple for the first few hours. However, I still have two barley pops to guzzle in 10 minutes in order to satisfy the hourly quota.
10:53: Seven minutes to put away 24 ounces. I refuse to break the rules within the first hour. Thanks to the saltiness lingering on my palate, I chug my first beer with relative ease. Maybe bacon and beer really are meant for each other, like lamb and tuna fish. I pour my second beer.
10:58: Bradley Cooper and his therapist discuss the DeSean Jackson jersey he’s wearing to dinner. The therapist says, “DeSean Jackson is the man.” I wonder what David O. Russell thinks of him signing with the Redskins. I wonder what David O. Russell thinks of the Redskins’ disparaging name and logo. What about Gaza?
11:00: Second beer finished. Quota upheld.
11:07: Remember the scene where Bradley Cooper freaks out over his wedding video in the middle of the night and attacks Robert DeNiro? Do you think GoodFellas-era DeNiro would put up with Bradley Cooper’s bipolar bullshit? If Joe Pesci intervened…I don’t even want to think about what would happen if he stepped in.
11:11: Third beer cracked.
11:22: Jennifer Lawrence is absolutely perfect in this movie. The bunned-up jet black hair and crazy sluttiness make for one hell of a performance. If you change the hair color and keep the psychotic personality, she can basically recycle an Oscar-worthy performance, e.g. American Hustle.
11:29: I’m still trying to figure out an enduring strategy. Should I dedicate 30 minutes to beer and 30 to bacon? Keep them mutually exclusive? The hours don’t feel 60 minutes long.
11:30: Fourth beer cracked.
11:38: I place my second set of bacon in the greasy puddle left by its predecessor.
Chemistry is a beautiful thing. Watching something transform before your eyes reminds you how life can never be naturally static. The bacon pops and sizzles with miniature explosions that make it become shriveled, darker, tougher, and more durable. We similarly experience this as we grow older and our skin gets thicker and we feel less and less with each passing year.
I make batch #2 extra crispy. Crispier bacon = smaller bacon = a less daunting day this will be.
11:50: I finish my fourth beer and second set of bacon 10 minutes early. I appreciate this downtime by watching J-Law dance around in yoga pants.
12:03 p.m.: This movie’s great, but contradictory. J-Law claims early on in the movie to hate football yet spouts off an entire season’s worth of Eagles’ stats when they lose to the Giants. How would she know that if she despises the sport? I’m assuming she’s meant to be a pathological liar, too?
12:04: I’m elated to see J-Law drink a Bud Heavy right after the Eagles monologue. I’d still lick her ankles.
12:06: Fifth beer cracked.
12:15: I briefly switch over to The Purge two channels away. It’s awful. I switch back to Silver Linings Playbook.
12:34: Sixth beer cracked. My stomach and I determine that the best thing to do is leave the bacon toward the end of the hour.
12:45: My friend Brent arrives. He is the first visitor of the day. I was beginning to worry that I had been forgotten about. That I would be confined to a prison of cholesterol and alcohol alone. That I would remain the sole victim of my own perverse design. But I’m not alone, and relief washes over me in a cool wave.
12:50: Brent takes a Snapchat of me frying up the third batch of bacon, as if it’s a great contribution to human history but not great enough to be bounded by more than a vanishing 10-second video. I cook him a piece and tell him this will not be a common occurrence.
12:56: I wrap up my bacon and beer requirements for the midday hour. The beer is getting easier to put it down while the bacon is starting to lose its luster. Luckily I have time to focus on the beer for about an hour or so.
1:05: Up until this point, I forgot there was a world outside operating without me. Brent and I adjourn to the back patio for a whiff of air that doesn’t clog arteries.
I leisurely sip my seventh beer while we reminisce on the unique oddities of attending an all-boys private high school. We talk about our erratic British Literature teacher who would go up to students with his Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog puppet and hump their desks with it. He would also unexpectedly ditch an entire day’s lesson plan and play Velvet Underground CDs instead. Sometimes he would refer to certain students as fecophiles for no reason at all.
‘Summer Hits of the 90s’ is playing in the background of this discussion.
1:39: I crack my eighth beer and fire up my seventh and eighth pieces of bacon. I’m a third of the way through the challenge and have been waiting since 11:30 to formally recognize this.
1:43: Brent tells me about Nathan For You, a Comedy Central show in which comedian Nathan Fielder uses bizarre strategies to help struggling businesses. I had never heard of it, so we watch “The Claw of Shame” episode. It’s hilarious and I give it the prestigious A-Mac Recommendation™.
2:03: Ninth beer cracked.
2:05: We throw on another episode of Nathan For You. It’s the season one finale in which Nathan organizes a blind date for an awkward Asian guy and tries to elude a private investigator.
2:07: I’ve been spinning my pen around my finger while watching the show. It took me half of my Fall 2012 semester to learn and now I can’t pick up a pen without doing it.
2:15: I don’t know if my hands are cramping up from the sodium or constant pen spinning. I like to think the latter.
2:34: We tune in to the latest episode of The Leftovers about halfway through. I still can’t tell if I like it or not. Justin Theroux does have a beautiful index finger, though.
2:36: 10th beer cracked.
2:44: My fifth batch is the first bad one. Not because I cooked it improperly, but because I know the bacon will taste like salty cardboard from here on out. The passion in our relationship is diminishing.
3:01: My twin sister is working on law school stuff/chaperoning me. I didn’t log the two beers for this hour, but she later claims I’m on schedule. I’m not so sure. Perhaps we’re just as dishonest with each other as I was with the decrepit grocery store man, even after spending nine months as wombmates.
3:15: Brent leaves. Then my sister leaves. I’m solitary again. Just a man and his thoughts. And bacon.
3:22: Cholesterol continues to coarse through my veins. My LDL level could be in the upper 200’s at this point. These might be my very last words.
3:38: My friend Samar arrives to chaperone and laugh at me. Those two seem to contradict each other.
4:00: I FORGOT TO MAKE MY SIXTH BATCH FOR THE 3:00 HOUR. And I’m also not sure if I drank two beers for that hour. I find solace in my sister’s assertion that I did, so I’m allegedly 12 beers deep.
The first error of the day, exactly halfway through, and it feels tragic. I don’t think I can make it up either. Is my hold on reality slipping through my fingers?
4:11: The show must go on. 13th beer cracked.
4:20: I throw the SIXTH batch on the skillet, not in honor of drugs.
4:44: 14th beer cracked. A Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons playlist is blaring as we sit on the patio again. I roll with it.
5:22: Jotting down notes is becoming increasingly irrelevant. I’m definitely on my 15th beer, but struggling to drink it at a confident pace.
5:27: The roles have been reversed. The beer was formerly easier than the bacon, but now the bacon is much easier. Despite their lost allure, I can effortlessly fold up those salty pieces of pork belly and shove them in my mouth. The beer is catching up to me and I’m quickly realizing why Natty Light is dirt cheap.
5:30: Samar is cooking the seventh batch of bacon for me. It took less than two hours to thoroughly domesticate her.
5:36: We talk about how Samar will teach sex education to her class of elementary schoolers in the fall. There are few scenes in this world more disturbing than a room full of unhygienic 10-year-olds learning about the fruits of nature.
5:40: I decide to drink only one beer this hour. I owe it to myself.
5:51: I acknowledge I’m two pieces of bacon and (allegedly) one beer behind. I no longer feel guilty as I’m eight hours and two-thirds into the challenge.
6:09: Silver Linings Playbook is on again. I’m watching it again. I don’t necessarily hate this decision, although I’m sure I could find a better use of my time.
The same thoughts that occurred to me at 10:58, 11:07, 11:22, 12:03, and 12:04 intermittently occur again over the next hour.
6:30: I’m more tired than a one-legged man at an ass-kicking contest. I don’t want to feel anymore.
I purposefully forget the quota exists during this hour. I’m now four pieces of bacon and three beers behind.
7:07: I could probably watch Silver Linings Playbook for two days straight. You notice new things every time you watch it.
7:08: I never realized that Bradley Cooper’s brother in the movie is Eli Thompson in Boardwalk Empire. Good shit.
7:15: 16th (I think) beer cracked.
7:17: I gloss back over my notes and realize that today was destined to be about J-Law and Silver Linings Playbook. The world works in mysterious ways.
7:30: 17th beer cracked and eighth batch is on the skillet. My momentum has made a triumphant resurgence. I anticipate it won’t stick around very long.
7:40: Two alleged friends Sully and Groff arrive at my house. They make me feel crappy about doing this challenge. I already feel that way. I’m unaffected by them.
7:48: 18th beer cracked.
10:32: I’m awoken in my room by another alleged friend Colin, who must’ve arrived while I was enjoying my solemn slumber. My half-full 18th beer is on the dresser next to my bed.
TOTAL BEER TALLY: 17.5
TOTAL BACON TALLY: 16
If my failure has taught me one thing, it’s that a love affair with food is a one-way street. Bacon is not ∞. A limit does exist, and too much bacon is CERTAINLY a bad thing.
I’m gonna go finish the rest of my BLT now. Excuse me.