is the situation," the M.C. announces. "The referee is going to have to
call this. Our table is not quite perfected yet. All right, here we go. Here we
The names of the
contestants that follow are lost in a blur of speed and sound-system
distortion. During three hours of sweaty competition, names, weights and places
take on a poetry of their own:
224 pounds from Dunsmuir, Calif.
228 pounds from San Rafael, Calif.
217 pounds from the Windy City.
Bob Ezra, 212
pounds from Los Angeles.
Eugene Piel, 229
pounds from Petaluma.
Payne rushes to the apron of the stage, teeters there precariously, peers
squint-eyed toward the rear of the auditorium. There is an uneasy silence as
the customers wait to learn what it is Payne sees out there in the blackness. A
few strain, twisting around in their seats.
gentlemen," Payne finally shouts. "I understand that from out of the
comic strip Peanuts, a good friend of ours has come tonight because he has
heard there is a young man here who is bigger than anyone else, and he's gonna
challenge him—it's Snoopy!" The crowd relaxes, applauds, whistles. It isn't
trouble after all. "Where are ya, Snoopy?" Payne cries as he searches
the gloom. "Here he comes! Snoopy, himself, ladies and gentlemen!"
enters, looking pregnant in a white plush Snoopy suit, escorted by the First
Fighter Wing of Hamilton Air Force Base. He is matched against Homer Keanu, a
Hawaiian who was heavyweight runner-up last year, a human garden wearing a
flowered sport shirt and leis around his massive neck. Snoopy wins—as everyone
expected. But losing to a dog does not appear to bother Homer. Later in the
evening he loses to a human and stands sad and wet-eyed, weeping into the crook
of his 24-inch arm. He blames his loss on the new "improved" table.