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Opinion >  Column

Paul Turner: 16 scoops of delicious doom awaits mega eaters today at Spokane Arena

About 20 minutes in, I started to worry about creating a volcanic regurgitative spectacle.

Picture it: A cold, creamy fountain of digestive upset. A very special spewing.

Instead, I wound up writing this. Same result, some might say.

Here’s the deal. Matt Gibson’s management team at the Spokane Arena had come up with an innovative way to promote the NCAA women’s basketball tournament games to be played here later this month – The Sweetest Sixteen Challenge.

If any trencherman willing to pay $50 could eat every bite of a 16-scoop ice cream sundae in 30 minutes, he or she would win a ticket package to the Spokane NCAA games. That gustatory challenge takes place at the Arena this afternoon. More on that in a moment.

I was invited to preview the face-stuffing experience Friday at the Market in the Arena. And as I am reasonably adept at the gluttony arts, I loosened my belt a notch and said “Bring it on.”

The result? I failed miserably. The Entity, that is, the sundae, beat me like a rented mule.

Can ice cream laugh?

My advice to today’s competitors? I’d turn back if I were you.

Executive chef Harold Froewiss said the 16 large scoops (eight chocolate, eight vanilla) amounted to about a gallon of high butterfat ice cream. Add to that four brownies, three bananas, whipped cream, cherries and fudge sauce and, as the Beatles’ George Harrison once said, it’s all too much.

You want March Madness? I got’cher March Madness.

I have not been a competitive eater since my older brother was vacuuming up the offerings at our childhood dinner table. But on Friday I had a strategy.

I would pace myself but never stop eating. I would be calmly relentless.

Alas, slow but steady barely made a dent in what I came to regard as The Monstrosity.

I asked several people involved how many calories the sundae on steroids represented. I never got an answer. Though one onlooker did helpfully recall when I wrote extensively about personally losing weight back in another lifetime (2000-2001).

To be fair, the mega-dessert was pleasing to the eye and the ice cream and other fattening ingredients were all quite tasty.

At least the first 80 bites or so. After that, it began to set a mite heavy.

Do you remember way back to that chilling scene in the movie “Aliens,” where that poor cocooned woman has one of the creatures growing inside her and pleads, “Kill me”?

OK, it wasn’t quite that bad. I knew at the outset that I didn’t have a chance, and said so to the small gathering watching to see if I could consume a dessert the size of a small Palouse hill.

“That’s negative thinking,” said the Arena’s Gibson, smiling.

No, it was survival. At the risk of discouraging those considering taking on the challenge today, I would just say this is an event crying out for liability waivers.

“The medical examiner said the cause of Mr. Turner’s demise was a busted gut.”

Being watched, even by friendly onlookers, added an element of tension to the proceedings. I was reluctant to grimace. Instead, I sort of smiled and kept shoveling it in.

Spoonful after spoonful. For half an hour.

First I felt full. Then I felt full-plus. Then I felt totally full of it.

Even now, hours later, I’m wondering if my medical plan would cover a sundaeectomy.

At least I didn’t get brainfreeze.

At some point during my voluntary forced feeding, my friend, photographer Jesse Tinsley, mentioned the Paul Newman movie “Cool Hand Luke.”

I had thought of that, too. But unlike Newman’s character, I had never boasted that I could eat 50 eggs (or a sundae the size of a small dog).

I’m just a guy who, even after 42 years in this business, hasn’t learned how interpret an editor’s smile.

OK, if you want to take on the Sweetest Sixteen Challenge today between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., here’s what you need to know. You need to have a ticket to the ongoing high school basketball tournament, to gain entry to the Arena. You need to pay $50 for your dessert o’ doom. And it won’t hurt if your stomach can defy the laws of physics.

Good luck and God bless.

Whichever might help you more.

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