I entered into this pact with two of my long time friends from high school. It may not seem like something that would be indicative of aging, but what self-respecting young man would engage in such a spectacle? For one thing, when you're in your twenties or early thirties, it's probably difficult to locate two or three friends that would even need to lose 20+ lbs., and those that could stand to slim down would probably decline to participate. Who wants to limit their excesses in the prime of life? There are other more effective ways to one up your friends and neighbors when you're young, like women, cars, income, fictitious sexual escapades, and drinking competitions. But when all that falls away and you're standing in your friend's kitchen for an official weigh-in, you know you've reached some kind of milestone.

This ridiculous bet was introduced after a few too many beers about three weeks ago. It wasn't necessarily a challenge, one of my friends just felt the compulsion to "get buff" (his words) before our annual fishing (read "drinking") trip in June. From there it just kind of snowballed into a testosterone-fueled throwing down of gauntlets. Once the wager was in place, the quest to put on the most weight before the weigh-in was under way, this was probably the only bright spot in what will most likely be a long eleven weeks. One of the competitors felt the need to actually call me and offer up a description of what he was eating and where he was eating it. As if consuming of a large bacon cheeseburger, fries and several beers at a local watering hole would send me clamoring to shove more carbs down my own pie whole. Okay, it did send me rifling through the Easter candy we had set aside for the kids, but there was more than enough to go around. The candy was on top of a couple of thousand extra calories that I packed into the week leading up to the weigh-in. It was quite fortuitous that part of the NCAA tournament occurred before the competition stepped off...guiltless, deep-fried meat and cheese, plus endless basketball viewing, if there is a heaven awaiting me, that is it. I'm getting a little choked up just thinking about it.

The showdown of the scales took place last Saturday at high noon. I arrived late, which may have actually shaved a couple of pounds off my weight. You see, as I walked in my compadres were enjoying large glasses of water, it seems that had seized upon my tardiness as an excuse to down tumbler after tumbler of H2O to pad their stats. To their credit, they did own up to employing such an unscrupulous tactic and gave me the opportunity to "catch up", so I drank about two glasses of water. In retrospect, I probably should have imbibed a bit more; let's just say post-weigh-in urinating, left them each a full pound lighterÖcunning SOBs, I'll give them that. I don't really want to mention their names here, because the water doping allegations could be construed as slander, plus, I don't want to hear them belly ache about the world knowing that they lost the bet come the final weigh-in on June 6th. Let's just call them J and B, kind of like the scotch, but a lot less refined. I sincerely hope they're reading this, I would hate to think that all this trash talking was going to waste.

After the dust settled, we all seemed to be more or less 20lbs from our goal weights, which makes it a pretty fair contest, I guess. I logged in at 244lbs, which was good; the scale at my gym put me at 237 and my home scale clocked me at 240, may as well come in heavy, right? I should mention that I'm about 6'4" in height. This information could come in handy when laying down a wager in Vegas, just look for that action under IWLF (Idiot Weight Loss Federation). I believe J is about 5'11" and weighed in at 228lbs, while B is around 6'0" and tipped the scales at 209lbs. There, now you know the tale of the tape.

Of course, there was a little bit of trash talking after the weights had been noted. You know your life has moved into a different hemisphere when someone says, "I'm gonna come in here looking like Jared from Subway, bitch!" and considers it a legitimate taunt. Okay, truth be told, it was me that actually uttered that gem; it might not sound like much now, but when articulated in stocking feet at a weigh-in, it resonates like Kennedy's "Ask not what you can do for your country" line.

As I write this, I'm one week into the competition and I think I'm off to a good start. I made it to the gym the past five mornings and pushed myself to near vomiting on two occasions. Although, perhaps almost vomiting should not be interpreted as a "good" thing, it might be more indicative of my soft pre-bet workouts than a testament to my current commitment level. I've also cut back on my food consumption; last night I actually spit out some popcorn that I'd absent-mindedly put in my mouth after 7pm, it was already chewed up and everything, the only thing left to do was swallow, there's your commitment, people.

As fate would have it, there is a poker game tomorrow night that will include all three competitors in this little weight loss tete-a-tete. It will be interesting to see how the eating and drinking habits of each individual break down. Will we slowly circle one another waiting to see who will pick up the first fistful of Fritos? Will there be open mockery of any and all self-indulgent behavior? Or will we be more like the British and German troops in World War I, who laid down their weapons to celebrate Christmas together? When your mind actually turns over questions such as this, you can be fairly certain you've wheeled your Buick up to the corner of Pathetic Street and Old Man Boulevard, may