Some guys show off their prowess through feats of athleticism (how fast they can run or drive a baseball).
Some guys parade their prowess by what car they drive (muscle or luxury sports cars).
And some guys measure their value by the quantity and type of women they’ve dated (platinum blondes or twins).
Here at About Men Radio, we quantify our worth by how long and loud we can burp.
This proud tradition has long roots that trace their way back to our days as kids in the Bronx playing softball at a rutted dust bowl of a baseball field at St. Raymond’s Boys High School (the alma mater for most of us).
Many a blistering hot summer day was whiled away with Pedro hitting fly balls, Rich and John playing infield and me playing outfield.
The entire outfield.
With my long legs and nervous energy, I could cover a fair piece of territory. Except when I couldn’t.
I’d be out there – my arms moving sideways like I was swimming to ward everyone off – staring up into the sun and calling out: “I got it! I GOT it! I GOT IT!”
And then the ball would pathetically land at my feet and I would call out: “I DON’T got it!”
Anyway, playing softball those hot summer afternoons meant building up a serious thirst. So usually around 2 or 3 p.m., we’d pool our money together and two of us would be delegated to go to Jarob’s, a bodega about a 20-minute walk away, to buy soda and juice.
What would follow upon the return of the errand boys would be a chugfest of epic proportions. Incredibly, I’d swig some 32- or 64-ounce bottle of soda and the judging would commence.
Belches were measured on volume, duration, frequency and creativity (could you recite the alphabet or speak out a sentence?)
Points were deducted if you strained or if it sounded like you were bringing up bile.
For a long while, I was pretty comfortably a champ or at least a serious contender. That is, until Gary joined our merry band.
To look at him, you would never think that Gary was a powerhouse competitor.
Smaller in stature than Pedro and I and with a disarmingly quiet demeanor, Gary can launch burps that are reminiscent of the Hippo Hurricane Holler of our childhood cartoons.
Poker-faced and unflinching, Gary would turn his head to you. Then, like a ventriloquist’s doll, his jaw would drop open as if on hinges, and let loose with such a gut-rumbler that your hair would be tousled from the blowback.
On every score – volume, sustainability, depth – Gary has proven an enduring champ and impossible to dethrone. I’ve pulled muscles trying to compete with him.
While I’ve still got game, I bow to talent greater than mine.
And if this has you going: “Yeeeeeew! This is disgusting!”
Let me remind you: Better this is all coming from the attic than the basement.