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UNLIKELY HEROES

A Lesson in Determination from the Kid Who Killed His Brain Chugging a Slushy

When a hero comes along. With the strength to carry on.

by Joel Golby
13 June 2017, 4:13am

Behold with awe the 17 seconds in which this boy kills his brain forever with Icee, which is an American type of slushy. The brain is not recovering from this, it shall not return, watch as the brain dies, you cannot see the brain but you can see the effects of its death, as though you can see through the skull, at the brain, as if you have X-ray vision, suddenly, and all you can see through layers of skin and dense bone is this: the brain, rapidly turning pink to blue, the edges of it dead already, never to be retrieved; and in its space, only agony, deep agony, the worst kind of pain there is.

Behold:

Getting brain freeze is an occupational hazard exclusive only to children and being a child. I remember the first time I learned to counter brain freeze: at Charlie Cox's sixth birthday party, which was Tintin-themed because Charlie was Really Into Tintin For Some Reason, and we were all issued costumes with our invite to the aforementioned party to avoid character-clash (Charlie, obviously, was Tintin that day, his hair sprayed red from a can; his brother was Snowy; I was told I had to be Professor Calculus, because even from that young age I was earmarked as the school year's go-to fuckin' nerd).

Picture the scene: a tiny boy, dressed as an ancient professor, consuming jelly and ice cream far too fast so as to induce an ice cream headache, doing that thing children do when they do not yet have the appropriate words with which to describe and express pain, so they just make a noise of rapid inhalation, they squirm their eyes closed and stamp their feet on the ground. Imagine that. Actually, you don't have to imagine, because photographic evidence exists of that day. Behold:


So imagine this, only it is screaming. And one of the available mothers that day – it wasn't my mum, and it wasn't Charlie's mum, and it wasn't anyone's mum I knew, so just imagine a spare, made-up-of-parts off-the-peg mum type – and someone's mum said, "Shh" and "stop screaming" and taught me that, to counter an ice cream headache, you must – instead of blindly wolfing ice cream into your body, clanging it all the way along across your teeth – you must instead use your tongue to press the ice cream against the roof of your mouth, slowly, to bring it down to an acceptable temperature for it to from there be swallowed. And lo, that day clouds parted and birds tweeted, and from then on I had acquired a superpower, and that superpower was eating large quantities of ice cream at rapid pace without getting hurt.

Behold this kid again, chugging Icee with the exact inverse motion to being sick, like if you reversed hi-def footage of someone vomiting an Icee it would be exactly this, just exactly:

So this kid knows about brain freeze. I am going to go out on a limb here, make an assumption: this kid knows about brain freeze. He knows what it feels like and he knows that it hurts. He knows, I'd venture, how to counter it. He knows brain freeze's nuances: knows how long it lasts, knows the size of brain freeze, knows the little corners of it. He knows full well all of brain freeze's triggers. He, crucially, knows this: if you consume a quarter gallon of Icee in 20 seconds or less, your brain will explode inside its skull and you will never know peace again.

But as the clock ticks down, our hero makes a rapid calculation. Short term non-agony, or extreme instant agony + a heroic legacy? In short: he makes the choice to sacrifice brain health for success. We can express the calculation thusly: the pursuit of glory (p) plus both actual + metaphorical hunger (h) equals success (s) minus brain health (b), or:

p + h = s - b

I'll admit Golby's Wider Theory of Brain Freeze is rough, that there are other less immediate elements to consider. Terrible pain in exchange for infinite glory. He knows he will induce brain freeze, but he will also win in doing so. The competitive element of the Icee chug isn't about how much Icee you can chug: it's how much you can push the very limits of your body to consume Icee around. Allow me, if you will, to invoke one of our greatest philosophers, Rocky, from the Rocky movies: "It ain't about how hard you hit," Rocky says, in the sixth best Rocky movie, Rocky Balboa. "It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward." In the film, this is an analogy that is 20 percent about boxing, 80 percent about life. It also applies 1,000 percent to chugging an Icee so hard a part of you dies.

Can you, a plain idiot, chug an Icee? Sure, you could chug a little. Could I, a moron, chug an Icee? Sure, yeah: I could get some down. But could I consume so much Icee in so short a time that I backflip off the edge of time, and space, and can see suddenly through both? Can we consume so much Icee than we transcend the field, and the stadium, and our nation and the earth, that we induce brain freeze so extreme we ascend and become akin to gods? No, we cannot, because our bodies are frail and our determination is weak. But this boy, this beautiful big boy. This beautiful wonderful Icee boy. He can chug an Icee so hard his brain freezes for a thousand glorious years. And when it unfreezes again, he will bring unto us rapture.

There is no moral to this story. Normally I'm like, "There is a moral to this story." No. You cannot learn from this boy because you will never have the determination he does. I want to be like, "Hey: next time you're struggling? Think of the Icee boy." You know. "Hey, next time you're [insert a sort-of-difficult job that you know needs doing but you can't quite bring yourself to do it]: think of the Icee Baby." Like: what's an unpleasant job? Uh. Like apply it to your own life, you know? Radiator bleeding, let's go with that. "Next time you are bleeding the radiators, and you've done like three of them but can't quite be bothered to go upstairs and do four more: think of the Icee Boi." Or: giving birth. Maybe you are giving birth right now, and it's— you know, there's a head in the way. There is a leg, about. "Think of the Icee Boy!" I might encourage you to think. "Push! Push! Push through the pain!" But we both know it is futile. You just don't have the cajones. Could you chug the Icee? No. Could you, therefore, be the Icee Boi? No. So fuck it off and move on. You cannot learn from this. You cannot learn from the boy. Just admire him and know he is your better. Not your equal. Never your equal. Your superior.

@joelgolby