When I was an angular teen with visible ribs and freakish teen metabolism, and not a rotund middle-aged slob, my brother and I used to walk across the street from our high school to McDonald’s in the short interval between the end of the school day and the start of football practice. I’d get two Big Macs for two bucks, and then walk them back across the street to the locker room to get ready for practice. I’d still be finishing the second Big Mac as I put on my pads, and I’d wash ‘em down with a couple gulps from the water fountain on the way out the door. Less than five minutes later, I’d be running wind-sprints with 1,200 calories of greasy trash stuffed into my guts. And I’d be fine! I was in good enough shape to be a cornerback, for chrissakes!
For August practices, my habits were even worse. Because I’d spent the entire summer playing pickup basketball and hadn’t done anything in particular to prepare for the specific demands of football season, the sudden addition of pounds and pounds of football equipment meant that my legs would get progressively more sore from the first day of practice until my body completed whatever adjustments it needed a couple weeks later. So in addition to the two after-school Big Macs, I’d also swallow five Advil tablets—a thousand milligrams of ibuprofen! Stat!—a few minutes before running out into humid 100-degree heat to practice football for a couple hours. All of it washed down with, again, no more than a couple gulps of tap water. And it was fine! I was fine.
I did this for two seasons of high school football, for God’s sake. If I tried to complete basically any part of that ritual other than the walk across the street now, as a 36-year-old, I would puke my entire skeleton out and die.
Teens are freakish monsters. My family would go to the tourist-trap seafood buffet in the beach town where we went for vacations, and I’d clean up five plates of food and not even feel all that particularly full; the reason to stop was boredom, or because my family was leaving, or because the cute college-aged waitress had made a remark about how we teen boys (myself, my brother, and a friend who tagged along) were gonna shut down the restaurant and it made us self-conscious. I’m lapsing into a coma by the time I finish a single plate, nowadays.
Anyway, spurred by some recent conversations with fellow Elders about our prodigious teenage appetites, I’d like to invite you, the readers, to share your stories about the bottomless garbage disposals you were as teens. Did you take down four Chipotles in a single sitting? Did you get ejected from Golden Corral? Did neighborhood pets go missing? Share your legendary exploits below, in the comments.