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Dad Meets a Hero

Dad and Joey Chestnut.

Dad and Joey Chestnut.

The last thing I expected to see in my Yahoo inbox this morning was my father, who is currently in South Korea, pictured sidling up beside professional marathon eater Joey Chestnut. The subject of the email was “Me & Joey,” and in it, Dad had written, “Here’s a picture of me and my buddy Joey Chestnut of Nathan’s hot dog eating contest fame; 5 X winner. Eat yer hearts out.”

Once I’d taken a moment to process the image, I realized it wasn’t that strange for a man who had been dubbed in 2007 as a “real American hero” to visit a Naval base in South Korea. It seems the department known as “Navy Entertainment” is throwing a bash this week featuring “The Major League Eaters,” which includes not only Chestnut, but also Crazy Legs Conti and Adrian Morgan. And men like my father, who are, as Dad often jokes, out there risking their necks “killing Commies for Christ,” get to meet and greet (and even compete) with the famed noshers.

I couldn’t help think that, of all the celebrities for a person to run into in all of the strangest of places, there could be no more perfect pairing than my father in the land of kimchi (a food he can’t stand) and a representative of Nathan’s, the makers of Dad’s all-time favorite hot dog ever since he ate them as a kid in Coney Island. I wonder if he’s thinking of entering the contest.

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