Dreaming of anchovies and ‘Survivor’

I’ve always want to be on the TV show, “Survivor.” I’m a huge fan and pictured myself scrambling over obstacles, organizing blindsides, eating coconuts and pretty much becoming a banquet for mosquitoes.

I would do pretty well, I figured. I’m scrappy. I can rough it. I like a challenge. I would “survive!”

I’ve thought all of this … right up until the other night. The night the dream died.

It was at a youth group meeting at Memorial Presbyterian. A dinner “with games” for kids and parents to kick off the year. I figured it would be board games or goofy get-to-know-you types. But instead they announced it would be a take on the TV show “Fear Factor,” which puts contestants in scary situations to see how they respond.

Close enough to “Survivor” to see what I’m made of!

I volunteered for an “eating” contest. I pictured myself scarfing down a giant bowl of meatballs or gummy bears in front of an adoring crowd screaming, “Bri-an! Eats-like! A-pig!”

What I did not picture — what my wildest nightmares couldn’t have imagined! — was what they would put in the bowl.


Let me just say it again: Anchovies! The fish that even fish don’t want to be around.

There are two types of people in this world: those who can’t stand anchovies, and those who run away screaming because it smells like a garbage truck submerged in the bay.

Luckily, we weren’t going to eat them. Just pick them up in our mouths, race across the room and deposit them in another bowl. Minor difference!

But my horror and revulsion gave way to excitement: “It’s like ‘Survivor,’ Brian! We’ve got this.”

Anchovies = glory.

I learned a couple of things about myself. Like how even at church I’ll do something disgusting to win a Starbucks gift card.

That I have a really big nose. Every time I put my mouth into the bowl, my honker got in the way. I can recommend a lot of things in this world, but I cannot recommend anchovies up the nostrils!

That I would be terrible at “Survivor.” I would chomp up what I thought was a huge bite, then realize it was only a centimeter in diameter when I made my deposit.

“Where did it all go?!?” I cried. “I didn’t swallow it, did I?!?”

I didn’t win. I’m not even sure I came in second or third. Children full-on beat me. And worse, I had to stride off caked in anchovies — little bits of fish stuck to my whiskers, and the smell swarming my nasal cavity. I washed my face 17 times, then gargled with coffee.

I sat back down at my seat — where everyone scooted away from me — and realized my “Survivor” dream was dead. And it hurt. It was devastating. It stunk worse than the little fishies. At least, right up until the moment I realized, maybe, “America’s Got Talent” might take a guy who could snort a bowl full of anchovies.

Also published on Medium.

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