The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Somehow, a spasmodic fit of silliness overtook us here in the Custom Publishing area of Florida Trend this morning, and some of us wound up doing some stunt eating in exchange for very little money.

Naturally, I started it. I noticed that a co-worker, Janell, had a kiwi fruit on her desk. Making small talk, I noted how good kiwis are, and asked her if she ate the skin of the fruit as well. She was pretty grossed out by the idea, and cited the fuzzy/hairy texture of the kiwi's skin as not being edible. I told her that, in fact, the skin is not only edible, but very nutritious, and that a lot of people eat the skin with no problem at all. She wasn't going for it, and I let it drop.

About a half-hour later, I made my way toward Janell's desk again, to check on something I was working on for her. She was talking with my assistant, who had come over for something or other. So I came up behind her and picked up the kiwi, showing it off to my assistant, mainly goofing around. Janell turned around, figured I was still on about eating the skin, and announced, "Okay, I'll give you a dollar if you take a bite out of that thing right now, skin and all."

Without thinking about it, I brought the kiwi up to my mouth and took a big bite out of it. Chewed it up and swallowed it. Mission accomplished! She "ewwwwed", laughed, and pulled out the dollar bill.

She made two mistakes: One, presenting me with a dare, and two, putting some hard currency behind it. Hey, a buck is a buck (although upon reflection, I probably should have held out for more).

The joke was on her, as in fact, I've been eating kiwis with the skin on them for a long while--at least a couple of years. I suppose part of it is laziness; it's just easier than going to the trouble of slicing and peeling them. I think someone informed me about the health benefits of eating the kiwi skin, and I probably tried it, decided it wasn't so bad, and made it a habit (at home, and strictly for my own consumption).

But the fun didn't end there! After that stunt, and actually getting the answer to my work-related question, I made my way back to my desk, with dollar and kiwi in hand. I bragged a bit to my officemate, Jamie, about what just happened. She thought it was a hoot. Then I remembered I had a banana that I had brought in with me, for an afternoon snack. I figured I'd give it to Janell, in compensation for taking her fruit snack. So off I went. On the way over, I made an offhand remark to Jamie about offering to eat the banana, skin and all, for another bit of cash compensation. She liked that idea too.

Janell appreciated the gesture, but didn't want the banana, as it was allegedly too ripe (I thought it was just about perfect; I knew a guy once who wouldn't eat a banana if it literally had only one small brown spot on its skin). So I turned to head back to my desk when Jamie showed up, and said, "Hey, I'll take a bite out of that banana with the skin on!"

I figured she was just kidding, so I played along and offered her five dollars if she would do it. I guess that was my mistake, because it seemed to motivate her to really do it. Janell chimed in and offered another dollar on top of that. Meanwhile, I dropped the banana on the floor (accidentally, I swear), and Jamie noted that that made it even more of a challenge. She thought about it for a second, then agreed. She mustered up her courage, then shut her eyes and took a good-sized chomp out of the unpeeled banana (sideways, from the middle of it). She chewed it, slowly at first and then faster (to get the taste out of her mouth that much quicker, I'm guessing), and swallowed. Impressed, Janell and I coughed up the money, and Jamie made her six bucks just like that. She noted that it wasn't as horrible as she thought it would be, but it was kind of bitter and gritty, and not something she'd want to try again.

It was at that point that someone said we were engaging in some kind of "Fear Factor" contest. It hadn't occurred to me until then, probably because I didn't consider my part of it to be so gross. But I could see how it all could be interpreted that way. Playing off this, someone else said I needed to come up with the next eating challenge, with the hint of ramping up the "Fear Factor"-like disgust quotient. I jokingly suggested that our office mascot, Phil the Betta Fish, had better watch his back...

So what conclusions can we draw from this episode? One is that, obviously, I'm a bad influence. Two, I'll whore myself for a pretty low price. Three, that network reality shows have a corrosive effect on our everyday life (hey, I don't even watch "Fear Factor" or its ilk; must be that evil media influence!).

Whatever. All I know is, I'll have healthy skin, and a whole dollar to spend!