Emily Post may have deplored any sort of public spitting as “disgusting” and “too nauseating to comment on,” but such notions of etiquette have never stuck with the patrons of Luling’s annual Watermelon Thump. Every June, the World Championship Seed Spitting Contest draws hundreds of spectators who hope to witness a Guinness-worthy spit (Luling resident Lee Wheelis set the record in 1989 at 68 feet 9 1/8 inches). “There’s not an exact science to it,” says Jamie Nickells, the competition’s chairman and the secretary-treasurer of the Thump Association. “But there are a few rules.” Stated simply, they go as follows: (1) Ammo must be harvested from the official Black Diamond melon, which is split on the premises, (2) each participant gets two chances on the “spitway,” a 75- by 15-foot painted strip, and (3) the seed spit farthest wins.
Select a large, heavy seed and moisten your mouth with a bit of watermelon flesh. Center the seed on your tongue, with the tapered end positioned forward for better aim. If you’re able, roll your tongue to make a barrel for your black bullet.
Approach the spitway, toes to the line, and inhale deeply through the nose (no one wants to perform the Heimlich). Lean back to achieve maximum force for propelling the seed.
Determine your technique: Champions either shoot up to create an arc and hope that a wind gust carries the seed or shoot down so it skips like a flat stone over still water (the bounce counts toward total distance). Abandoning all decorum, quickly expel your gathered breath through your rolled tongue. “Relax,” says Nickells. “You’re going to look silly, so get over it.”