So on Monday, a group of Englishmen got together on the top of a hill for an ancient contest. They gathered around noon, and spectators came from across the countryside to bear witness.
It wasn't to see a fight or a tug-of-war. Somebody rolled a 7-pound wheel of Gloucester cheese down the hill and they chased it .... down the hill ... the steep hill.
While this may sound like an unusual tradition and, as it turns out, both men and women participate and are sometimes injured in tumbles down the hill it's nothing compared to some of the weirdness we here stateside sometimes participate in.
Your average county fair is often the site of your good ol' southern greased pig chase (and even the greased pole climb).
In Dublin, Ga., the home of the Redneck Games, adults yearly remove their shirts to expose their well-endowed pot bellies and splat face first in the mud. Others take the opportunity to hurl hubcaps or see how far they can spit watermelon seeds. I read in a Macon Telegraph story that the games kick-off with a barbecue grill-lighting ceremony.
In San Francisco, there is apparently a bikini-tofu wrestling event put on by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to promote vegetarian lifestyles. No comment necessary.
Also in San Francisco, there is a league of power-tool racers who outfit table saws into drag racers in the spirit of friendly, though dangerous, competition and watch their creations cut up a poor piece of particle board.
And we all know someone who has souped-up their riding lawnmower for competition, right?
In Blythewood, S.C., residents celebrate a persistent weed long ago introduced to the South and known as kudzu. The festival includes a kudzu tractor pull, a kudzu-eating contest, and the naming of Miss Kudzu, a local teen beauty queen.
So the cheese thing doesn't sound so bad, right? What's wrong with a few guys and girls barreling down a hill on a Monday afternoon in pursuit of a little Limburger or Rikeey or Brie.
I mean, it's cheese after all. And what's more desirable?
I used to have a colleague who was obsessed with the stuff. You know how some people are wine snobs? He was a cheese snob. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just that once you get really heavy into cheese, it can all go downhill from there.
Michael Davis covers government for the Daily Herald. His column appears on Fridays. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .