One of the habits I picked up from Jim was reading Playboy magazine. For the articles. The last time I bought one was when they had an interview with the new governor of Minnesota: Jesse Ventura. Those were heady days for this state, and it was a good article. I read the magazine for the articles. They also featured news about off-beat events that readers might be interested in.
In 1974 one of the events they previewed took place near my Mother’s home in Colorado. Central City. We loved to visit that small and historic town in the mountains. They had museums, cafés, little shops, and an opera house preserved from the mining days in the previous century. (That being the 19th century.) We enjoyed the drive from Denver and a day in the mountains. Since then gambling has taken over the town and all that’s there now are casinos and parking lots. We haven’t been there since.
Playboy featured a brief article about an event planned for Central City … a “Spittin’ Cussin’ and Belchin’ Contest” at the opera house. God was on our side, and the contest took place while we were in Denver for an already planned late summer vacation. My mother and Norris thought it would be a fun day, and even my brothers thought it would be a good time. Little did we know.
We walked into the opera house and found it full of scruffy looking people. Maybe there were a lot of motorcycle gangs in town or something? That didn’t deter us one bit. We arrived early, so we could try to figure out what was going on and how they would run the contest. Most interesting were the judges for the spittin’ contest. Both of them sported bright yellow rain slickers. They needed them. Contestants ate slices of watermelon and spat the seeds in the general direction of the judges, who carefully measured exactly how far the seeds flew.
Belchin’ provided the most entertaining part of the program, although the entertainment was mostly in the warm-up phase, before the formal contest. The contestants, mostly big guys with impressive beer bellies, did their best to swallow air, kind of like a kindergarten boy would do, and let loose a huge volley of disgusting sound. These belches even echoed off the walls of the opera house. The original builders had no clue what 1974 would bring to their beloved house.
Did I mention there was beer involved? There’s no question that beer encourages belching, but it has other side effects that helped move every part of the contest forward. The spitters were much more fluid. Belching was far juicier. But, oh, what a half-dozen or two beers did for the cussers. Imbibing a gallon or so of alcoholic beverages stimulates urine production. During the cussin’ warm up, one of the contestants thought that the height of insult was to piss his pants. The audience was not impressed.
That’s when Judy and I started to wonder about the appropriateness of our attendance. We had only been married for a year, and here was Judy. At a cussin’ contest with her mother in law and her two young brothers in law. Was this a recipe for disaster? Oh, My. Fortunately for us, Grace didn’t have an issue, and (as I recall) Norris just left the building to get a cup of coffee next door.
The sponsors knew how to put on a contest, and saved the best for last. The object of the cussin’ part of the contest was a handsome young dandy, dressed in the finest costume available. The cussers stood to his left at the microphone and tried to get his goat. The rules did not allow traditional profanity (f*ck, sh*t and the like) nor did it allow taking the Lord’s name in vain. That cut out most of the curses I’ve ever used. At no time in my experience has anyone ever come close to matching the eloquence of those cussers. The winning curse rolls off my tongue with no effort, and Judy remembers it instantly. Pray that we don’t ever direct the curse at you.
“You’re so bad, you’d suck farts off a dead pig’s ass.”