It’s usually No. 1 on “America’s Top New Year’s Resolutions” hit parade: Lose weight.
And every year my friends Reg “Third Degree” Burns and George “Biddy” Boehme shake hands on a bet: Who can lose more weight during January? They’re big fellas, if they were children, you’d describe them as “good eaters.” Third Degree once won the “World’s Championship Rib Eating Contest” in downtown Houston. Sure there were accusations of cheating, but he walked away with the trophy. It’s got a pig on top.
Biddy is habit-forming. When he discovered that IHOP had a breakfast called the Split Decision, with a little of everything on the menu, he ordered it for 30 straight days. Why, only last week, I met him for breakfast at Taco Cabana. When I got there, he was sitting with a Breakfast Sampler in front of him. Again, a massive amount of everything on the menu. I asked him, who else was joining us? He said, “nobody, why do you ask?"
I once rode a bicycle alongside him to authenticate that Biddy ran three miles with a lit cigar in his mouth. Biddy considers himself a baseball historian, especially when it comes to the old Negro Leagues. He earned his nickname after bragging that he had found someone selling a book called Biddy Jones’ Diary, a chronicle of one of the Negro League’s biggest stars in the 1930s. Biddy didn’t care how much it would cost, he had to buy this “highly collectible” book, a rare first-person insight into life in the Negro Leagues. And he did. And when it arrived, he tore open the package.
Biddy Jones’ Diary turned out to be a children's comic book.
I swear this is true: One day, Third Degree and Biddy decided to play one-on-one basketball in my backyard. After only five points (Third Degree leading 3-2), Biddy staggered into my kitchen, desperate for anything to drink, opened the refrigerator door and furiously chugged a Slim Fast. It was one of the most amazing — and sad — things I’ve ever seen.
Biddy’s luck turned around when they were shopping in the pharmacy department at Sam’s Club and they bet on who had the lower blood pressure. Can you get a BOGO at Jenny Craig and the Menninger Clinic for gambling addiction?
Third Degree is director of finance and operations for Miller Outdoor Theatre. He got his nickname just because it’s funny. Biddy is publisher of West U/Bellaire Essentials magazine. Their New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight.
Mine is to lose two friends.
The weighing is the hardest part
Third Degree and Biddy weighed in January 1. Trumpets please. Third Degree tipped the scales (over) at 257.5, only a half-pound short of his forever high weight. Biddy weighed 247 pounds, a new January 1 record for him. I couldn't be prouder of them.
So far, over the years, Biddy has won six of their weight loss contests. Third Degree has four victories. Admittedly, they’re not dedicated to winning. They’re not an inspiration to people who want to shed some pounds and get heathy by eating less and exercising more. One year, Biddy won the diet bet when he gained only two pounds, while Third Degree packed on four pounds. They’ve never met a guy named Will … Will Power.
I ask Third Degree, what’s your strategy this year? He emails back: “I relish the opportunity to muster up the courage to devour my weenie opponent.” He must have been at the James Coney Island fixin’s bar when he thought that up. He’s usually not that punny.
Biddy’s plan is more involved. He says, “My diet is from the app MyFitnessPal.com It is the only healthy diet that has ever worked for me. I have to limit my calories to 1,780 daily. I have been rigorously on the diet for only a few days and I already feel like a new man. Third Degree is not committed to a healthy lifestyle. He relies on the fad crash diets like the wine and eggs diet, the baby food diet — and one year he lost two pounds on the Joan Crawford diet. He likes the quick fix, where I take the healthy approach.
My prediction is that on February 1, I will have lost 29.5 pounds, putting me at a still mildly obese 217.5 pounds. Third Degree will gain three pounds.”
If Third Degree promised that he’d gain only three pounds, I’d bet on him to win.
Follow the saga of this diet war on Twitter.