Walter and the Golden Egg: A True Story


Until early May 2000, Walter Candelaria's indefatigable ingestion system seemed to be bound by no limits. But its capacity was discovered when he tried to eat a golden jello egg all at once. On the spring evening in question, Walter sat attentively at the dinner table with his pudgy hands folded appropriately and his massive tongue resting on his droopy lower jowl as he regarded John and me. We served the life-sized egg in a little bowl with whipped topping and watched with interest as Walter cautiously dipped his spoon into the non-dairy condiment and placed some on his tongue. With trembling concentration he began trying to slice off some of the egg; so taut was his focus on the task at hand that he seemed momentarily to banish all distractions, excluding from his realm everything but the egg, the spoon, and Walter himself. As the specter lost its hilarity, John and I turned our attention elsewhere. But moments later, I turned back to see the entire egg gone and Walter eyeing me with an inquiring look. He stood up and hurried to the sink, grabbing the edge and producing some unusual noises. A mild panic began to envelop me. Walter turned to me, his eyes bulging out even more than usual and his chubby hands around his throat. He lurched into the hallway and squatted down, creating odd retching noises as an unbearable soundtrack to the ordeal, slightly frantic but avoiding hysteria. I was convinced that it was time to initiate Heimlich manoeuvers and was moving into position behind the boy, but John grabbed a little trash can and handed it to Walter, who gripped it tight in front of him. We chanted "throw it up! puke it out!" in tense whispers for several heart-stopping moments while Walter attempted with all his might to hurl the wiggly egg. The noises became more and more desperate until finally the egg flew out, describing a perfect arc into the can, a slow-motion clip worthy of a wonders of nature video. In a nanosecond of clarity, I felt a worshipful admiration for Walter's composure and the champion efforts of his able esophagus. But soon post-traumatic adrenaline began flowing to my extremities and back and cleared my mind of all else. The three of us kneeled together and peered into the can, staring at the golden egg, which taunted us in return. Moments later Walter was hungry again, and ate an apple.