| [Photo: Sharon Dunn,
Global TV's Alan Carter and Mix 99.9's Kim Rossi on the Danforth.
My orders were to show up at Logan and Danforth at 1:30 p.m. Saturday for the Taste of the Danforth's big event, the waiter race.
Now, let me explain: I usually avoid this type of invitation -- participation in events like relays, pie-eating contests or memory games -- like the plague. I never win them. Maybe it's the crowd of onlookers that throws me off, or maybe it's the competition, or maybe it's just a lack of talent on my part. About the only thing I've won was a beer-drinking contest at a Club Med. My eldest son was so proud.
As I make my way down the street toward Logan -- organizers expected a million people to visit the Taste of the Danforth over the weekend -- I pass numerous outdoor barbecues offering gyros and shish kebab, cooking within inches of displays of lacy underthings. The lingerie is bound to end up smelling like pork, but maybe that's a selling feature. I find myself thinking that maybe I won't find the event and won't have to compete, but alas, as I approach, I realize I will have no such luck.
On the positive side, the race seems simple enough. Contestants, all members of the media, have to hoist a glass filled with water on a tray and run a relay three times around a statue that organizers have erected so that they end up with three glasses of water on the tray.
I have agreed to compete not because I have particularly good balance or am a fast runner. I have done it because I am a good sport. And I just want to make it completely clear that the grand prize of a trip to Greece, compliments of World of Vacations and Air Transat, has absolutely nothing to do with my attendance.
Only three of us have shown up -- Global TV's Alan Carter, The Toronto Sun's Kevin Connor and me -- so maybe it is my lucky day. I can beat these two, I think smugly.
However, as MC and mayoral candidate John Tory announces the beginning of the event, another competitor emerges from the shadows -- a lithe, athletic-looking woman named Kim Rossi, from radio station Mix 99.9. Rossi was the afternoon drive-home host with Steve Anthony, but now, I hear, she'll be joining Humble & Fred in the morning.
"Have you been a waiter before?" I ask, trying to suss her out.
"Yes," she says, and I get that sinking feeling.
Kim and Alan start the competition, Alan looking reasonably goofy as he picks his way to the finish line, reminiscent of a horse running through mud. Kim goes faster and, at the end of the course, is still looking good, which is quite a feat.
Now Kevin and I compete. I know I look at least as silly as Alan, but I'm faster than Kevin (though he looks very good, with his tray perched professionally on his hand). At one point, I slow down so he can catch up. OK, that may or may not be true, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
After some deliberation among the judges, Tory announces the two competitors who will not go on to the finals: Kevin and Kim. That means Alan and I are going forward. I can't believe they've chosen me over Kim.
I'm already on the plane to Greece, dreaming of Athens and maybe a Greek island cruise. Then I hear someone whisper, "Fixed!" and one of the organizers approaches Tory to tell him he's made a mistake: Kim Rossi is going to the finals; it's Sharon Dunn who's out.
I watch indignantly as Kim and Alan duke it out in the finals. Kim is ahead, but then she spills all of her water and has to refill on the last round.
"That's illegal," I yell, but no one is listening to me. I don't push it because I'm not sure whom I want to win, Alan or Kim. Actually, I do know: I want me to win.
After deliberations, it's decided that Kim is the winner. In a way, I'm relieved I didn't make it to the finals. I would have created a fuss about Kim spilling the water. Then I would fuss again because the winner gets only one ticket to Greece. So I saved money in the end, since I don't have to pay to bring the rest of my family with me.
What this column is all about is giving readers an up-close view of what a sore loser looks like, because like everyone else on the Danforth yesterday, I want to go to Greece.