EDITOR'S NOTE: The Super Bowl. The World Series. The NBA Finals. Page 2 has covered those championships over and over and over again, and we'll continue to do so. But we're branching out, too, into the championships of ... oh, say, cow-chip throwing and wife carrying. Yes, those lesser-known and goofy sports are coming to Page 2 in a series of stories we're calling SportsOFFCenter. Today, Darren Rovell tells us all about his experience ... spittin' watermelon seeds.
LULING, Texas -- Pick a seed.
Pick a seed.
Pick a seed.
|Darren Rovell at the Watermelon seed spit
It is 9 p.m. in this small town (population: 5,080) in south central Texas; and here I am, practicing my watermelon-seed spitting over and over again as a Ferris wheel and "The Scrambler" from the nearby carnival provide just enough light to see where the black specks land.
For some reason, when I traveled 2,000 miles to Beaver, Okla., in April to participate in the World Championship of Cow Chip Throwing, I didn't practice. I didn't try to perfect the craft.
I also didn't come close to placing, and I left disappointed.
So for the 52nd Annual Watermelon Thump, which includes the World Championship of Watermelon-Seed Spitting, I made up my mind to try my hardest to learn, practice and make a worthy attempt at the world record. Eighteen hours before the competition, I was making up for those wasted years of not spitting watermelon seeds.
I've loved watermelon since I was a kid, but I always thought of the seeds as the most major inconvenience in all of the culinary world. With the exception, that is, of having to cut the poison out of the fugu fish before eating it.
Don't ever mention, though, that you prefer to "go seedless" here in Luling, even if it's OK in this place to ask a stranger about her melons.
"We do have some of the biggest melons around," confirms Trey Bailey, a director of the Thump, named for the sound the melon makes when locals flick it to see whether it's ripe.
I arrived in town a day before the event so I could familiarize myself with everything that is watermelon . . . like, for example, the water tower, which six years ago was painted to look like a watermelon. And Bailey's headgear, which was a watermelon cowboy hat. And Bailey's footwear, which was red Converse Chuck Taylor shoes with black seeds on them.
I was greeted by women who had painted their fingernails and toenails to look like watermelon. And I struck up scary watermelon-themed conversations with people like Mary Oubre of New Iberia, La., who drove about 400 miles so she could worship at this watermelon shrine.
"I have watermelon earrings, three watermelon shirts, a watermelon birdhouse, watermelon Mardi Gras beads, watermelon saucers, watermelon glasses, watermelon wind chimes, a watermelon robe, a watermelon hat, a watermelon doormat, a watermelon purse and a watermelon bag," said Oubre, who claims she eats at least one piece of watermelon every day.
The seed spitting contest was started about 20 years ago by a Georgia minister who became a Luling resident. Since then, it has been the premier event of the Thump.