The Time I Raced a Couch on Boylston Street

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I laughed out loud when I first received word of the Great Boston Couch Race, an outdoor obstacle course completed via pedicabs/couches/rickshaws, for the awareness and benefit of House of Tsang sauces. “Who are the ad wizards that came up with this one?”

It turns out Tsang puts on quite a show and they deserve a thumbs up for a legitimately fun event. The race’s obstacles were so ridiculous that they circled back on the cool-o-meter, from a DVD hunt reminiscent of Supermarket Sweep to tossing vegetables at a teammate with the help of a wok. I felt like I was a contestant on Family Double Dare, if it were filmed on a frozen tundra. Multiple flatscreens displayed twitter feeds and a nearby tent cooked up stir-fry on demand. This is apart from the sauce itself, which I know as a staple for confused guys who want add flavor to meat, but for whom the advanced ways of five spice marinade remain a mystery.

The Pru on a winter’s Saturday morning is confusing for this city native. The crowd was dominated by high schoolers in formal wear: there was a jazz band competition in the Hynes. You know the crowd: that kid in the food court forgot his tie and the one sitting across from him just threw mini corns at the girls. Another kid slicked back his hair with mousse for the first time ever. It is overrun with tourists, too. But I can only wonder, who chose to come to Boston in February and spend more time inside at a mall? How bad does it have to be where you came from?

In the Couch Race, those high schoolers would be my downfall. I raced against two girls in town from Cape Cod, a pianist and a singer. We had a huge lead, entering the final stretch under 100 seconds. But  pedal mishaps necessitated pushing the bike-couch-rickshaw with our feet, a la Fred Flintstone, costing valuable time. As we approached the finish line behind the musicians, our soy sauce dreams a fading memory, I thought back to competitions of years past, and relived my “almost, not-quite” moments.

I won an Oreo stacking contest in the 1990s. My parents and I happened upon the demo table in Wegmans and encouraged me to compete. My hands, fresh from a piano lesson, piled up over 20 cookies. I knew it to be a triumph, even in the moment. Later that evening, a woman called and informed me I won that day’s round. Glory was upon me. I was ready for regionals, all-state, then the Oreo Olympics. Wegmans never called to schedule a follow-up match.

My middle school bowling team received the Foundation Trophy several years for the dubious distinction of supporting the rest of the league by finishing last. A noble effort rewarded with an embarrassingly stout trophy.

I won Jeopardy! and am pleased by the accolades garnered from the over-60 set, the increase in bar trivia invitations and a wonderfully awkward photo with Alex Trebek many think is Photoshopped. And yet I remain unfulfilled by a thread on a Disco Biscuits discussion board. The night of the show’s original airing, a mysterious, alleged middle school classmate live-blogged the ups and downs of the game. Winnings aside, the true daily double is, “who is this guy?” The answer remains elusive.