I like Chicken Wings. I like Things That Are Hot. Doing a little addition, you might correctly conclude that I like Chicken Wings That Are Hot. Today, however, I discovered I don’t like all Chicken Wings That Are Hot.
For years, I’ve been proud of my ability to tolerate hot (spicy) foods. It’s not just that I’m Tough, but that others are Wimps. When I hear my friends complain about how spicy a certain salsa might be for example, I silently heap Scorn upon them. “Spicy? Hah!” I think. “I don’t detect even a bit of heat.” Yes, many of my friends are Wimps. They are not Tough like me. (Note: Jeremy is Tough. Jeff has some Toughness in him.)
So, it has become my habit to order my meals Hot (or Extra Hot, if the option is available) when I go to restaurants. My Thai curry? Hot! My Indian curry? Hot! Anything else that I could possibly get spicy? Hot! Please, very Hot!
Twice in the past, I’ve come close to defeat. Once while dining at the Bombay Cricket Club with Nick and Kris, I had a a dish that was really very Hot. But it was Tasty, and I was Tough. I emerged victorious. On another occasion, Andrew and I had Thai food at a little place north of Lloyd Center. My Mussman curry was almost too Hot. Almost. My gut burned inside for days, but I won. I won.
Today I went thrift-shopping with Kris and Tiffany. We started at the big Goodwill on 99E, just north of Powell. I picked up three books:
- Watership Down, to loan to Rhonda and Mike
- How Green Was My Valley, for book group
- The Modern Library edition of Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy, which I’d never heard of before today
While the Gates women shopped, I sat on a couch and read about Bunnies. I was there a long time.
Interlude: I sat in a fuzzy easy chair in the Goodwill furniture department. Across from me was a set of almost Nice, almost Antique furniture: an ornate chair with a wooden frame (for lack of a better word), a matching settee, and a coffee table. The set was unusual in that the sittable items were labeled with signs that read: DO NOT SIT. Perhaps as a result of this (or perhaps because the items were almost Antique), nearly every adult (except the Gates women) and many children stopped to look at the price. It was an interesting social Experiment. My hypothesis was that if one were to remove the signs, nobody would have paid attention to the Ugly things, but because they were labeled DO NOT SIT, everyone stopped to look at the price. Or maybe everyone else just has Bad Taste.
“Would you like to go to lunch?” Kris asked as we paid for our purchases. She spent $41. Tiffany spent $41. I spent $6.
“Yes,” I said. I was hungry.
“Let’s go to Sully’s,” she said.
“No,” I said. “I’ll pay for lunch, but I’m picking.”
“Where are we going?” Kris said, but I did not answer. I was Mysterious.
“Where are we going to lunch?” asked Tiffany.
“I don’t know,” Kris said. “J.D. is being Mysterious.” And then she said, out of some Wifely Instinct, “I’ll bet we’re going to Fire on the Mountain.”
Ah, indeed we were. A restaurant devoted to Chicken Wings — could anything be more Lovely? Tiffany ordered Wings. I ordered Wings. Kris ordered Fish and Chips. For her sauce, Tiffany chose Sweet BBQ. For half of my Wings, I chose a delicious Lemon Pepper sauce. But for the other half, I chose El Jefe, a “Crazy Hot” sauce. I wasn’t worried. I sampled the latter before I ordered. I could handle it.
From the first bite, I knew that El Jefe was going to kick my Ass. My lips were on fire. The inside of my mouth burned like a Televangelist in the Afterlife. My eyes began to water. I gasped for air. Tiffany laughed.
“Do you want some ranch dressing?” she asked.
“No,” I gasped.
“He hates ranch dressing,” Kris said.
“I know,” said Tiffany, “but he looks like he’s going to cry.”
I felt like I was going to cry.
I ate one Crazy Hot Wing. I ate two. I ate three. On the fourth, I cut corners. I avoided much of the skin. My heart wasn’t in it. I picked up a fifth — and then I put it down.
“I lose,” I said. “El Jefe wins.”
It was a sad moment for me. All my life, I have been the victor. I have been Tough. I have not been a Wimp. But today? Today El Jefe kicked my Ass.
p.s. I paid for lunch. It cost $35. So, my total for the day was also $41.