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All You Can Eat

All You Can Eat


Dad was banned for life
from the all-you-can-eat
places all up and down
the Eastern seaboard.
It was a wonder to see
his likeness on a greasy
“not wanted here” bulletin
board at an Italian Smorgasbord
just outside of Dover, Delaware.


At 5 foot two and 110 pounds,
Dad was a wiry anxious man
of prodigious strength.
As a parlor trick, he would
rip a Washington quarter
in half lengthwise, while
downing a Bud. The eagle on
the reverse screeched like a
startled seagull as he pulled it apart.
The partygoers loved it.


I was there when he won
the Coney Island Hot Dog
Eating Contest in 1977.
He downed 51 dogs
in just under 10 minutes.
Unlike the other contestants,
who appeared hurried,
dad took the time to smear
a bit of French’s yellow mustard
on each before devouring it.
The crowd loved it.


Now you folks all know

that I am just a faithful

chronicler of truth and beauty,

but I swear that on that splendid

4th of July, just an hour or so

after he ate a half a hundred hot dogs,

we got off the subway

a few stops early, so Dad and I

could share a couple of pizzas,

at Gino’s on Utica Avenue

with, of course, the works on top.

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