Bacontopia had been bought and named during another marketing stunt, this time by a food packaging company from Chicago. They eventually abandoned it for insurance reasons as the amount of bacon eaten by the average visitor was fourteen times the recommended daily limits set in place by the FDA. US law didn’t really apply there, but no insurance company was going to take that bet either. The eventual sale, however, gave the World Stench Competition cheap, out-of-the-way real estate, since no hotel, even ones desperate for business, would allow them to hold the competition on their premises.
The plane ride went well except that every passenger within a 12 seat radius requested a flight transfer. That only left two other people on the plane, one took up a position in the bathroom to try to get away from the stench, and the other had a terrible cold and couldn’t smell a thing. Luckily, my Dad lets me hold my nose with a clothes pin when he’s competing or I might have tried to hole up in the bathroom too. The flight attendant did not come by with anything complementary.
In the World Stench Competition finals, Dad wasn’t a favorite. There were two guys who hadn’t bathed yet–ever, a guy who had eaten a pound of Limburger every day since 1974, a man who cleaned diapers for a living, a guy who rubbed rotten eggs on himself every morning, a guy who was raised by wolves and the guy who actually made all the bacon when Bacontopia was in full swing.
All the other contestants came alone, and, though I didn’t notice it then, out of thirty-some contestants none were women. In fact the only woman on the island was a nutritionist who consulted with contestants on keeping balanced nutrition while eating odor inducing foods. She survived by wearing a gas mask all day, every day, but unfortunately for her the mask didn’t filter all of my Dad’s stench.
For two days each of the contestants prepared for their final test. Some contestants ate stinky foods, some took trash showers and some spent hours in the woods chasing skunks hoping to get sprayed. Skunks weren’t native to the island, but the WSC had brought them in for the further training of its contestants.
A contestant or two tried bathing dogs in hopes the wet dog smell would come off on them, but this plan failed miserably. The wet dog smell didn’t stick to them and mostly they just washed their other odors off. Two men later went home in tears, knowing the decision had lost them their chance at the stink crown.
The first day my Dad and I ended up traveling around the island and seeing the sites. We had a lot of fun at the Bacon Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Bacon, the Colossus of Bacon, the hanging gardens of Bacon, Mount Baconmore and Canned Meat Castle (I still don’t know why that was on Bacontopia). There were many other wonders of the world modeled in bacon too. Most of these were in imitation or plastic bacon, but the ones that weren’t helped with stench training. I urged Dad a few times to work on his training, but he told me not to worry about it and suggested we go see the Mona Bacon.
My Dad knew he had to up his game, though, when, Mike, the man who lived in his parent’s basement, came back to the lodge that night and had been sprayed by skunks three different times.
After a stinky food dinner, all the contestants sat around a campfire and told stories long into the night. Some told ghost stories from their homelands, some told stories of their stench talent and how they started, my Dad told a story about changing my diaper when I was a baby that made everyone laugh (even me).
No one told any more stories for a long while after that. Most of them sat poking the fire or looking deep into the flames. Finally my Dad and I convinced another guy to talk. We went around the fire some more, then Mike re-told an epic poem by an old French poet. I don’t really remember the story, but I remember a warm and happy feeling while he told it, and that afterward a few men had streaks down their dirty faces. After that we all ran out of stuff to say and turned in for the night.
To Be Continued…