The Milk Challenge

So, I tried to spin this story as some sort of lesson, but let me just be honest with you from the beginning: this is a strictly a funny story about the time my friends and I tried to drink a gallon of milk in an hour.  That’s it.  We didn’t all hug and realize some deeper life-lesson after it was over.  What we realized was three grown-ass women temporarily lost their minds and tried to do something our bodies physically couldn’t do, simply because nobody could convince us otherwise.  Unfortunately, we did it in front of every single one of our friends, so that we could talk about it for the next few decades or so.

It’s late summer 2005. Rob and I had just moved into our house, and were planning a big housewarming party so our friends could come over and see how grown-up we were, with our fancy mortgage and responsibilities and shit. A few days before the party, Rob came home from an evening spent at our local Denny’s. “Dude, you’ll never believe what Muriel and Jenny said.”


“Okay, do you know what the milk challenge is?”

“Where you try to drink a gallon of milk in an hour?”

“Yeah. They both seriously said they could do it.” He instantly started cracking up.

“You know what? I think I could probably do it.  I mean, if they think they can do it, then I definitely can do it.”

He started laughing even harder, his face changing from do you believe this shit? to completely incredulous.  “You three are DUMB.  It can’t be done!  Like, physically, your body can’t  do it.”

“Well, why don’t we try it here?  They’re both coming over this weekend anyways.  I’ll buy three gallons of milk, and we’ll go head-to-head.”

He just shook his head.  “You guys are so stupid.  You’ll all end up puking.”

Whatever, I thought.  How dare he underestimate me.  I knew for sure that I could do it.  I was going to OWN this shit.  I couldn’t wait to impress everybody with my incredible milk-drinking abilities and sheer determination.  I wasn’t much of an athlete in high school or college or, actually, during any part of my life, but goddammit THIS was something I was going to excel in.  I pictured myself in my shining moment, with all my friends cheering for me.  They would be all, “Wow, I didn’t know Janel was that tough.”  My mom would be really proud.  Maybe I’d make it on the news.  Local Woman Does The Impossible, Shows  the World She’s a Total Badass.  Details at 11.

Dude, I… I know.

The day before the party, I went to the grocery store and bought three gallons of skim milk. [Note: Muriel would like me to point out that she did, unfortunately, drink cow’s milk this particular evening.  It was before she saw the light and became a vegan and renounced all forms of dairy in favor of Our Lord and Savior Soy Milk.  In the event of a rematch, she would definitely bring her own gallon of Silk, in which case we would all call bullshit and insist that it doesn’t count.]  I figured if you were going to try to ingest an entire gallon of milk, there was no room in your stomach for all that extra fat in whole or even 2% milk.

The next night, everyone showed up at our brand-new house.  We mingled, gave tours, and enjoyed our new status as “Most Likely to Store Your Shit in Our Garage”.  We were so winning this whole adulthood thing: college, jobs, marriage, house.  Feeling mature, feeling good.  Feeling so good, in fact, that I decided that now was the time to begin The Great Milk Challenge.

We gathered the entire house full of people into our brand-new backyard, around our brand-new deck and brand-new patio furniture.  The three of us sat down in front of everyone with our own brand-new gallon of milk.  A timekeeper was assigned.  A large amount of smack was talked by everyone.  Whatever.  They can talk, but I knew my role: I would be the underdog, the dark horse.  I’d come from behind and blow everybody’s mind.  Small but mighty, that’s me.

Then the drinking began.


The first fifteen minutes was absolutely fine.  Lots of laughing and joking around.  Every time I saw someone drink,


I would drink too.


This isn’t so bad!  I was right, I could totally do this!  Man, this is going to feel so good when everyone sees me finish this gallon!  They’re going to be so impressed, they’ll talk about it for years!  I couldn’t wait to finish my milk and end the evening on a high note.

Around the 25 minute mark is where things got not-so-fun.  I decided that I needed to go in the house to get my jacket because OH HEY, drinking a large quantity of cold milk in a short time span makes you feel a little chilly.  I also needed a rubber band to pull back my hair.  You know, no reason at all, just in case I wanted to do something that involved having my hair away from my face.  Nothing in particular.

When I sat back down, I thought, “Whoa.  I shouldn’t be up and moving around when there’s a 1/4 gallon of milk sloshing around in my stomach.”  Five minutes later, the pizza guy showed up.  I got up and walked to the door to pay the pizza guy, and brought the food into the house.  Again, when I sat back down, I thought, “Whoa.  I shouldn’t be smelling pizza when I have so much milk sitting in my stomach.”


At about 35 minutes, everyone looked pretty fucking bummed.  You could see in our faces that we had realized what a poor decision this had been.  It ceased to be a fun stunt and was now a pure test of willpower and estrogen-fueled stubbornness.  We knew drinking milk made us feel bad, but we also knew that drinking more milk was the only way out of this terrible, terrible situation we had gotten ourselves into.  I made it about an inch below the top of the jug handle before my brain received the signal that it was time to put an end to this ridiculous bullshit.  Whether or not that happened publicly in front of all of my friends was my decision, but stomach had made an executive decision about this fiasco, and it was decidedly not in my favor.

I bolted from my chair, ran into the house, down the basement stairs, and into the small bathroom by the laundry room.  Throwing up cold milk you only drank about twenty minutes prior to throwing it up isn’t that terrible of an experience, believe it or not.  In fact, after I puked, I felt so much better.


So great, in fact, that I returned to the stage to torment my fellow contestants.  I filled them in on how great I felt now that I had puked, and that I was going to enjoy some hot, cheesy pizza now.  About ten minutes later, Muriel made her trip to the bathroom, after making it slightly below the handle of the jug.  Finally, with ten minutes to spare, Jenny finally succumbed after drinking a little over 3/4 of a gallon of milk.


I wish I could tell you that I learned my lesson and refrain from stupid pissing contests like this.  I wish I could tell you that I didn’t go on to eat three pieces of ham and cheese pizza that night, too.  Sadly, I’d be lying if I sad either of those things happened.  Here’s what I learned that night:

1.  If you’re going to try to drink a gallon of milk, be sure to stay seated the entire time.

2.  That’s it.

I’m planning to try this every ten years, so I figure I have about a year to get ready.  I’ll let you know how it goes, but I’m calling it now: I really think I have this locked down.

Thanks to Jenny and Muriel for letting me talk about that night they puked in my basement bathroom for no good reason.  Do them a favor and check out Go Comedy! Improv Theater and Sasha Farm Sanctuary.

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12 Responses to The Milk Challenge

  1. qwertygirl says:

    Since the idea of just drinking milk at a regular pace (or even at all) makes me want to hurl in the first place, the fact that you drank any makes you a superhero in my book!

  2. I feel like I could do it.

  3. Arnebya says:

    I don’t like milk. I mean, I’ll have it on my cereal but just for the wetness. I could probably just use water. I did this is in June 1991 but with gin. I haven’t had gin since, can’t even tolerate the smell of it because all those things I said…and did…come rushing back. I hope you don’t develop milk PTSD. (I still think I could drink a gallon of chocolate or strawberry milk, though. I needed to admit that in this safe, deluded space.)

  4. Hillary says:

    You are just a master. I don’t care if you couldn’t drink the whole thing, the fact that you tried makes you a hero in my book. I got queasy just thinking about that much milk sloshing inside of me. Guh.

  5. Two words: Greek Week. I was in a sorority in college. A super cool one in that we didn’t haze and we had lots of fun, brainy chicks. OKAY, geeks. WHATEVS. But every year we had a Greek Week. One highlight was a Jell-O Eating Contest. Another? Root beer chug. I was the lucky gal, the idiot, who was bother volunteered and also strangely excited to represent my sisters in the noble and gassy quest to be the fastest chugger of one warm 2-liter bottle of root beer.

    That day I earned the nickname root beer, and shortly thereafter, ziti. Because I’d had ziti for lunch and everyone in the quad knew it when it exited my mouth with great velocity on a tide of Mug.

  6. Meredith says:

    Janel! You are too much. Also, you are really, really cute. And now I kind of have this bizarre hankering to give the milk challenge a go. I won’t, but thanks for opening up the world of possibilities.

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