Athlete of the Year: Karen Kho
It was happening all over again. In an instant, I had transformed into a 10 year old version of myself in grade 5 gym class. My recurring nightmare, its soccer-baseball day and it’s my turn up to the plate. “Karen’s up, everybody move iiiiiin!”
I stare blankly at the young boys who are flailing their arms at me. “Kick it over lady!”
I look down at the soccer ball at my feet and feel the searing hot flash of blood rushing to my cheeks. “Oh, um, O.K, I’ll throw it over!” They’re just a bunch of boys, Karen, you’re a grown woman now. Pick up the ball.
I look both ways and aim for the top of the fence. Whoosh! Klink! The fence rattles and the ball zooms back towards my face. They boo me. Like, seriously? One more try and it just clips the top before tilting backwards onto the sidewalk and rolling again towards my boots. “Sorry! I don’t throw very well…” I squeamishly try to explain.
“Clearly…” the kid mutters under his breath, with a surprisingly mature look of shock and disdain on his face. It is at that point that I am confronted with every non-athletic girl’s nightmare…”The Dreaded Granny Throw Gesture”. I lower my head in shame and toss the ball between my legs and up into the air. I turn with an air of defeat, grab my groceries from the sidewalk and hunker into my apartment to make dinner.
The reminder of my innate clumsiness clouded my mind as I began to plan my evening’s feast. Natural athleticism was never to be in the cards for me no matter how much I jogged, downward dogged or spun on a bike. But as I separated my vegetables, I felt a defiance grow inside of me. What is an athlete after all? An individual who possesses a combination of skill, endurance and competitive spirit, no? As I marinated two large flank steaks, my mind began to wander.
“Karen, you’re making too much food, we’ll never finish it…..” A familiar accusation from my tiny cooking companion.
“Nonsense,” I reply, “Have you seen me eat?” And then it hit me.
Perhaps I was an athlete after all. What if my sport was consuming? Stay with me here folks. Competitive eating is considered a sport in North American culture. “Athletes” train for events and are rewarded with trophies, bragging rights and in many instances, cash prizes.
Granted, I have no desire to shovel dozens of hot dogs down my throat but as far as good old fashioned eating and drinking is concerned, I am one of the best. I have taken down 5 course dinners without batting an eye; gleefully gorged on plates of petit fours and can skilfully snag the last piece of bacon from my competitors with the grace of a gazelle. Being the smallest in a clan of freakishly tall Filipinos has taught me to manoeuvre through Chinese buffets in record speed. Wine is my Gatorade, fuelling me towards new heights of gluttonous excellence. Riesling is guzzled, Barolo is devoured and Champagne is sabered. If it’s edible, I am ready with fork and knife in hand. That’s right sports fans; I’m here to collect my glory. So the next time you see me attacking a sandwich, please don’t judge, I’m in training.
Posted in Wine Chat