Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas in Pinto with the Contadors

It is Christmas Eve and the sun begins to set over the little Spanish town of Pinto, Spain. Pinto is famous for two things: the botanical legume it has bequeethed its name upon (the Pinto bean) and Alberto Contador, the first ever Spanish winner of all three Grand Tours. Alberto sits by the fireplace eating olives and drinking madiera in the family hacienda, chatting with his older brother Francisco Javier.

There is wild game, pheasant, boar, and other game Alberto and Francisco Javier have killed. There are olives, sausages, cheeses, and wines of every kind. Beef is noticably absent from the table.

His long-time girlfriend Macarena sits at his feet, and his birds, in dozens of cages, hanging from hooks and on the floor, chirp gaily. They, like their master, suffer from clipped wings. They sing, but their songs bring Alberto no cheer.

Francisco Javier speaks up. "What is it that you wish for for Christmas?"

Alberto smiles wryly. "To have all this doping talk erased, you know? Is funny, no, that I have looked death in the face when I [taps the plate in his skull] on the mountain. I thought nothing could be as hard to face--death itself."

Macarena interjects, "But you are facing this bravely, my Albertito!"

"Their scientists doubt I could have eaten enough of this tainted beef to raise my infection level!" Alberto's eyes flash angrily. "They do not know how much meat I can devour! How can they say this when they have not seen me pack it away!"

"I have seen you, my brother, and I am aware. How much beef did you eat that accursed night, my brother?"

"At least ten pounds," Alberto replies solemnly. "You know that it was the rest day, and I watch this fat man on TV, all day they have this 'Man versus Food' Marathon and I am inspired. I am sitting down at the table with a platter and all of my teammates are devouring. I say to Vino and de la Fuente, 'Truly I am a champion of the climbs and of the time trials, but tonight I shall show you that I am a champion of the gut bomb.' To the wonder of my teammates, I devoured a significant portion of the cow--how much, no man can tell. Certainly more than is humanly possible. More than this fat man of 'Man versus Food,' although I must give him credit for inspiration."

"You attacked the flesh as you attacked Verbier," nodded Francisco Javier.

"All night I suffer from terrible gas and the next day I carry this extra weight with me. But I do it for the glory if it! I can take physical suffering! But now, this mental suffering, this disgrace! My greatest feat of competitive eating is now my downfall."

They were silent.

"Truly, my love," said Macarena, "you are a tragic hero, like Oedipus, whose triumph leads to his tragic end."

In the village the church bells began ringing; the Christmas mass had begun.

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