Longform

The Big Chil

Page 7 of 7

Gilligan must have cooked him some fine chili, because Soper advances several names into the list before he calls Kalar's name. For the stormy crew -- it's a loss, it's a win. Kalar grits his teeth as he smiles. Motherfuckers, he thinks. Then he sits in mild agony, hoping none of his friends beat him.

Soper moves on to the top five. Robert Bigge hears his name next: the reigning champ has finished third. His face registers a twinge of disappointment that quickly changes to acceptance. He receives his certificate, and pauses near Soper for a beat, a smile teetering on his face. Then Soper announces: "Second place goes to Better Half's Better Chili" -- that's Gina's. The winner was Fred Boehm, a state worker and fire expert from Hollywood who had twice finished third.

"AwwwRIIIGHT!" Robert yells, and as Gina brings the kids to the front, he gathers Ryan in his arms, and tosses the boy into the air. They practically dance back to their tent. "I'm so happy," Robert says.

The Gilligan's Island crew is content with a top-10 finish in chili. (The best tent top honors went to Kalar's neighbors, who outfitted their digs with stuffed ducks, snakes, buck heads, and a bobcat.) Any pain from the loss is short-lived. By 5 p.m., Kalar is passing out Jell-O shots and jawing with his buddies Davie Cash, a bull rider, and Mike Van Ryn, a Florida Panthers defenseman bored stiff with the hockey lockout. "What are you doing Tuesday?" Kalar asks Van Ryn. "How would you like to help me wax a boat?" As the millionaire skater ponders this job offer, Kalar grins like a jack-o-lantern.

Back at the Dirty White Boys' den, Lambert is in the first stages of what he will later call "a deep depression" from his loss, but he has some good news. "I finished 25th," he says, "but we couldn't even find Shawn's name on the list." With that, he has retained his trash-talking rights for another year.

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Sam Eifling
Contact: Sam Eifling