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Wing Bowl 23 by Roc Borja

It was 3:30am and there was coffee brewing. Sweet T was stumbling about the coffee pot, clearly not awake enough for this hour. Our friend Wags was next to Sweet T in the kitchen, pouring himself a shot of vodka and chasing it with a beer. I refrained. I wanted to see the spectacle that was Philly’s Wing Bowl with untainted vision. Plus, I also had to drive the three of us to the Wells Fargo Center and then back home again.

I had not slept. Unlike Sweet T, I can run on surprisingly little sleep. And I do not require alcohol in order to have a good time (despite writing for a website called ‘TheresDrinkingToBeDone.com’). I drink surprisingly little, even when I do go out, and tonight/today was no exception. And I’m glad, to a degree, because when we pulled into the Wells Fargo parking lot to meet up with Kingpin, it appeared that the city of Philadelphia was already drinking enough for the three of us.

It was just after 4:00am and we were ready to go find our resident Wing Bowl veteran and do some light tailgating. Reception wasn’t great, and my attempts to reach KP via phone were spotty, so we took to the parking lot with our eyes peeled. I had attempted to get him to meet us at the first landmark I could see – a normal sized children’s school bus. As we approached it, it became apparent that the area surrounding this landmark was disaster area – a fallout zone, a nuclear test site. It was riddled with beer cans and bottles and empty 30 pack boxes and puke and various liquids.

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It was hard to tell whether or not this liquid was beer or piss, because the two liquids are very similar in hue, and because several broken bottles and punctured beer cans littered the area. Several errant, completely unopened beers rolled beside my feet as we approached. It looked like someone had dropped a bunch and now they were just being kicked around and stomped on. Several drunken dudes encircled the area around the school bus, toting a funnel and shot-gunning beers, yelling at each other and throwing shit at anyone who happened to walk past. One thing was clear: the school bus was not a safe zone.

“There he is!” Sweet T yelled.

Finally we had found the one and only Kingpin tailgating with his brother. He was donning a blinking-horned Viking helmet that would have been immediately recognizable had we not been sucked into the madness of the school-bus war-zone. We downed powdered donuts and several beers before the 5:00am cut-off. Kingpin and Sweet T were bestowed with the ever-elusive PRESS PASS and needed to be inside the venue around 5:00. As I had not been bestowed with a Press Pass, I was free to continue to down powdered donuts and beer with Wags and Kingpin’s brother. Today was my day to gain a spectator’s perspective on this cherished and beloved event.

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We made a few rounds around the parking lot, making sure to avoid the mayhem of the bussers. No one was safe from these mongrels. We kept a wide berth and walked around some more, baffled at the sheer volume of people out here – seemingly stark raving drunk – before 6:00am. Around quarter-to-six and we decided it was probably time to shuffle our way inside, having exhausted our supply of booze and donuts.

Once we were in, I didn’t know what to think. There were people everywhere, falling all over one another, crowding the concession areas and bathrooms. Every time an attractive young woman walked by, requests for public exposure abounded. And if that young woman complied, she was swarmed upon by hordes of drunken men looking to take pictures of (or with) her breasts. I saw this happen twice before I even got to my seat. You may ask, well, what were you doing there with the horde? The answer is simple: I was trying to get a good look at some exposed breasts. Who among uss doesn’t enjoy a nice pair of boobs first thing in the morning? The truth is that Wags and I found ourselves craning our heads to get a better look, and even then we found our view obstructed by the total volume of gawkers. We gave up and decided to use the restroom before heading to our seats.

The bathroom was a-whole-nother level of insanity. Bathrooms that are being frequented by countless multitudes of drunks are going to be dirty, but this… this was like the River Styx of Hellish Nightmare Bathrooms. Lines stemmed from every urinal and outside of every stall. There was almost an inch (not an exaggeration) of hot, steaming urine over the entirety of the bathroom floor. Several people were just outright pissing on the floor. One young man was just blatantly pissing on the closed door of an occupied stall. The more sober men around me laughed and exchanged looks with me as we stood in flabbergasted awe of this creative pisser’s tenacity and ingenuity.

Wags flagged me down as I exited the bathroom and we stood in line for a slice of pizza from Lorenzo’s. The pizza was enormous but the line was mercifully short. We took our seats with pizza in hand just as the first of the competitors was rounding his way down the thoroughfare with his entourage in-tow. I was tired, and I was in shock, and I was feeling heavy-headed, but I was having the time of my fucking life. We watched entourage after entourages escort their competitive eater around the lower level. As each entourage (comprised of drunken men and half-naked beautiful women) passed our section of the stands, the protective barrier meant to keep hockey pucks from crushing spectator’s faces was rocked hard enough to produce audible creaks and groans from the stress.

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After my boyhood idol (the one and only Mick Foley) came around the track I must admit that I stopped paying attention to anything other than the scantily clad women. The competitors were up on the stage but from where I sat, they all looked like wild animals gorging themselves gluttonously on the kill. Every time the camera panned on the eaters, they looked to be on the verge of combustion. The Wingettes were much, much easier on the eyes. I found myself taking pictures and videos of beautiful woman being screamed at by drunken men. A part of me felt a little ashamed at the almost blatant hyper-sexuality and borderline misogyny I was participating in. Was this who I was? A pervert among a sea of degenerates making cat-calls and craning necks to get the best peak of exposed tits and ass? Was I objectifying women, or celebrating them? Was this all that different from going to a burlesque show and cheering on the women who take their clothes off at such an event? Would my girlfriend be disappointed in me if she were to see me right now? My girlfriend…

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I looked down past the Wingettes competing for Wing-Girl of the year, and I saw Sweet T snapping pictures of disgusting men chowing down on the processed and flavored carcasses of literally hundreds of dead chickens, and beautiful women flagrantly clapping their ass cheeks. I ventured a little closer to where she was standing and got her attention. She smiled and waved, but yelled to me that she couldn’t come any closer lest she “lose this prime spot for all these ass-and-titty pictures”. Well, that settled it; I was going to spend the rest of the morning gawking at the Wingettes with the rest of the Cavemen.

The bottom line:

Wing Bowl 23 was a sight to behold. I have never in my life seen such insanity. I have never in my life seen so many exposed asses outside of pornography and burlesque. Some people call the Wing Bowl sexist, and a dark gritty look into the evil that lurks in the hearts of men. I can’t attest to that. Sexism is sort of a gray area that I personally find hard to gauge. What I did see (aside from drunks and asses) was the Wells Fargo Center filled to the brim with Philadelphia eccentrics and enthusiasts doing what only Philadelphians can do best: raising hell and cheering for tits during a beloved home-town tradition.

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