It was all really by chance.
All I had intended to do was go down to the Harvest & Heritage Days festival last Saturday and snap a few photos.
That was it.
Instead, my life changed dramatically. Well, maybe that's an overstatement, but it sounds good!
It was about 1 p.m. or so when we wandered over to the pavilion on Main Street. The corn shucking contest was supposed to be happening so that sounded like a good photo opportunity.
We quickly learned that the first adult heat had been canceled for lack of participation. They were scrambling to find some contestants.
So my wife, Nicole, volunteered, saying she'd give it a shot. She encouraged me to do the same.
I never really made the commitment, however, when the time came, I was told I was registered.
By then, there were quite a few others registered, as well. I think there were seven of us in total.
It had been years and years since I've had anything to do with shucking corn. Way back in the day my grandmother would have me shuck corn and my first job was on a farm in Indiana, where corn is king.
But that was decades ago.
At first, I was a little intimidated because a guy a couple of seats down from me was wearing a Nebraska T-shirt. They are the cornhuskers so I figured this guy was a ringer.
Before I knew it, the horn sounded and away we went shucking the corn. I really had no idea how I was doing because I was in such deep concentration.
I guess I had contracted shucking fever!
The contest lasts two minutes. Now that might not sound like a long time, but for someone who's main exercise is manipulating a keyboard, it's an eternity. By the time the gun had sounded, my fingers were pooped.
I was on the far end, so everyone else's ears were counted first. As it came to me, the high score was 15. They counted mine and much to my surprise, I had done 16. I had won the preliminary round!
But alas, now I had to go into the finals. How would I train and psych myself up in just 30 minutes?
Having a smoke seemed to do the trick.
So now it was time for the finals.
But what, where were the two ladies who were in the competition? Nowhere to be found.
So instead of four, it was just two of us. There I was with Dan Engveldson, who had scored 15 in the previous round.
Engveldson was also part of the musical entertainment that day, as well, so he was much more popular.
I knew I had to get my game face on for the finals. I sat right next to him in an effort to intimidate. I don't think it really phased him.
So off we went. I knew I was going to have to step up my game because Dan was determined to take home the $1.65 trophy.
I was going to have none of it!
I knew about half way through I was slightly ahead. I was grabbing the small ears so it was going faster! But I also knew it was going to be close.
The horn sounded (actually the horn had broken so it was Gail Tucker's 'husky' voice that sounded) and now it was time.
They counted Dan's first. He had stepped it up and had 18 ears.
As I waited with baited breath, I couldn't believe what I had heard.
"Twenty," said the judges.
I had just won the corn shucking contest. I could have fallen dead on the spot and my life would have been complete.
Instead, I accepted the $1.65 trophy (which sits proudly on my desk) and posed for the "grip and grin" photo. Thankfully, Nicole was there to take the photo because that's what I was supposed to be doing.
With my new found fame, I wasn't sure what was going to happen next.
Lots of ribbing from everyone, of course.
I proudly brought the trophy into the office Monday and it was relentless.
"You mother shucker!"
Actually, that was funny because in the youth category, there was a tie and Tucker said they were going to have a "shuck off."
I told her that sounded like a personal problem.
So for the next year, I can boast about how I am the reigning shucking champion of the Harvest & Heritage Days Festival.
At first, I thought about going into deep training to defend my title next year. However, smoking twice as much would be very expensive.
Instead, I've decided to hang up my title.
The main reason is I want to go out on top, as the champion. You know, end it in style.
Some might think I am worried some young whippersnapper might come along next year and take me to task. No way! (Okay, maybe.)
But like all great self-centered athletes who retire, I absolutely reserve the right to come out of retirement. I'll just have to see who shows up next year before making any such rash decision.
In the meantime, I'll continue to admire my $1.65 trophy each day and reminisce about my glory days as the shucking king. It's good to be the shucking king!