Yokota couples eating octopus for a cause
Stars and Stripes October 10, 2005
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The things people do for love.
For five couples, that meant eating octopus smeared with a smelly paste, diving for frogs at the bottom of a pool and testing marital communication lines in front of about 50 spectators.
It was all part of the first annual “Yokota Couples Fear Factor,” held Saturday at the base natatorium in recognition of Domestic Violence Prevention Month.
In the end, Chris and Nicole Curry emerged from the pack, edging out Emille and Zenziwe Bryant in the finals to claim the grand prize: a free weekend at the New Sanno Hotel in Tokyo, Yokota Information Tickets and Travel tour, plaque and $20 gift certificates to Charlie T’s restaurant at the Enlisted Club and the Bangkok Express shop.
“We wanted to get out and see how well we know each other — and take part in some physical and mental challenges,” said Chris Curry, an airman first class assigned to the 374th Operations Support Squadron.
Added wife Nicole: “We knew we’d be good competitors. The only thing we were concerned about was eating octopus.”
Inspired by the NBC reality television show, the event was hosted by Yokota’s Family Advocacy Program as a way to enhance public awareness and help stem domestic abuse within the military community.
“‘Fear Factor’ is very popular in the States and seemed like a good idea for us,” said Hugh Clark, Yokota’s Family Advocacy outreach manager.
“We thought it would be a great way to bring people out and recognize that October is Domestic Violence Prevention Month nationwide,” he said. “Most couples edify and lift each other but one person being assaulted or abused is too many.”
Saturday’s showdown began with a physical challenge as the husband-wife teams scoured the pool to find five toy frogs organizers tossed in.
It digressed into the phase that typically turns the most heads, if not many stomachs. Contestants had to ingest a ghastly concoction of octopus and Japanese natto beans, a fermented soy paste that emits a rather rude odor. All but one couple managed to get it down.
“The worst part was the octopus,” said Chris Curry. “It was really chunky and sticky.”
Added his wife, who is four months pregnant: “There was no way I was eating that.”
The Currys and Bryants owned the fastest times at the end of two stages to reach the finale, where they had to answer questions about each other in a session that was a cross between “The Dating Game” and “The Newlywed Game.” Topics ranged from favorite colors and foods to details about first dates.
“That’s known in therapeutic circles as ‘How well do you know me?’” Clark said. “It deals with couples’ communication skills throughout the years. … You must have good communication to understand each other’s needs.”
Chris and Nicole Curry matched all five answers to secure first place.
“This just confirms how good we are to each other,” she said.
The competition was rewarding on many levels, he added.
“It fosters teamwork,” he said. “It gets you to communicate with each other and work together to focus on a challenge and accomplish the goal.”
The Currys, who’ll mark their third anniversary in November, also had some advice for a successful marriage.
“Communicate daily,” Chris said. “Don’t take your business out in the streets. Work together and listen to each other.”
“Teamwork makes the dream work,” added Nicole.
Beau and Annah Veazey finished third Saturday. The other contestants were Marcus and Valerie Avalos and Edward and Donna Bowman. All received consolation prizes.
“It was a super turnout,” Clark said. “There was a lot of buzz around the base about it. We’re hoping to make this an annual event.”
In another activity marking Domestic Violence Prevention Month, Yokota’s Family Support Center will conduct an Alcohol Awareness Class at 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13. Alcohol is a factor in more than 50 percent of all domestic-violence cases, according to Hugh Clark, Yokota’s Family Advocacy outreach manager.
Throughout October, information booths will be set up at the Family Support Center with brochures and pamphlets about domestic abuse.
— Stars and Stripes