So, this morning the fellas were gathered around, and one of our drivers grows red chilis at his home. Apparently, these are some hot puppies, and he was bragging about just how hot they were. My partner Jason told me his brother tried to eat one for $20 dollars, and was in misery for hours afterward.
I was incredulous.
Afterall, I LOVE Jalepenos and spicy food. A buddy of mine makes tuna-stuffed Jalepenos, and I eat 'em up like nothing. Granted, about an hour later, my stomach is shredded, and I'm shitting flames and the blood of the creature from Alien, but at the time I don't think about it, because I LOVE them!
Needless to say, I'm trying to figure myself out.
Here's why: No sooner had Jason explained to me that his brother ate one on a dare I spout out that for $20 bucks I'd easily take that easy money bet.
The gauntlet was up.
No way out.
The reason I said what I said was because A) I wasn't thinking and Who in their right mind would pay me $20 bucks just to watch me eat a red chili pepper? Apparently, the answer to that is " guys I work with would". No sooner than I said I would, they whipped out a twenty, and handed me over the little red devil, smirks and glinting eyes that said "We Dare You."
The gauntlet was up.
No way out.
So, I casually take the pepper, and examine it as I would examine any shiny little object I may find in the street or yard. I was not afraid to eat one little red pepper (or so I would have the boys believe). With a smirk on my own face, I ask them again, as if letting them back out of this silly deal, "So, you would REALLY give ME TWENTY DOLLARS JUST to eat a little Red Pepper?"
"Here's the money, Keith, you have to chew the Pepper,and swallow it!"
The realization hit me that I was about to torture my bowels and palate for $20 bucks. I was thinking of ways to get out of this deal, all the while staring at this hot fire engine red pepper-bomb.
All eyes on me.
I had the twenty in one hand, the pepper in the other hand, and a decision to make.
Before I knew I was doing it, I was taking a Big 'ol bite out of the pepper to the stem. I looked at the stem, and could still see a few seeds left, as I crunched down again on the pepper inside my mouth.
Okay, so far, so good..In fact, it actually tasted kind of sweet.
Crunch. Third chew of the pepper. Temperture is rising, and the first glimmer of heat is detected. I knew I had to work fast. the longer those seeds stayed in my mouth, I knew it would rip open into a crescendo of searing heat!
Fourth Chew, and the heat was rising to a boiling tempo, and I felt a surge of panic because this was going to be painful, so I relfexively swallow, and the three quarter chewed pepper goes down my throat like swallowing a hot charcoal briquette.
Five seconds, and it feels like Mount Saint Helens has erupted inside my mouth, but instead of the hot flowing magma that normally flows out, it is actuallyworking its way down my throat, seeming to cauterize the very delicate esophogaus lining, and working its way to the core of my belly.
I give them what they wanted. I'm sniffling, and a light bead of sweat forms on my brow.
"WOW" I said, it coming out more panicked than I hoped it would. It was all I could think to say, but I'm also laughing as well, as are all of my work associates around me. They probe me with "how does it feel?"" Is it too hot?" "Are you dying yet?" "DON'T DRINK WATER, WHATEVER YOU DO!" all I could do was feign like I was humored by it all, artfully hiding the distress my mouth and stomach were in. In the end, this event lasted about one to five minutes before everybody lost interest and got to work. However, about a half hour, and I could still feel the sting of the pepper in the back of my throat, and my stomach was now acting as the river Styx. I popped several antacids, and that seemed to help. I write this four hours later, and, while the effects are not as strong, I think the mark left by that pepper is going to be around for the rest of the day.
So, I pose the question: Why did I do it? what compelled a 40-year old man to take on a sophmoric dare for a meager twenty bucks? Was it the money? Was it pride? Was it part of my subconscious mid-life crisis?
Of course, the answer is "all of the above". I mean, it was only a little red pepper, and I got paid twenty bucks. However, it was also the challenge, the dare, if you will, to do something a little zany. To prove my mettle, I guess.
Yeah, it can be lumped in that catagory as well, but certainly not as macho as fighting a bull, or jumping my bike over twenty red-hot chili pepper tour buses.
I don't have all the answers. Seems to me, just when I think I'm maturing and settling, and moving away from childish things, I go and do some stupid boneheaded stunt. Granted, not a horrific stunt, it was just a red pepper, but I knew I'd suffer, and I did. So, a loss of IQ points must be noted.
You know what?
It was for the twenty bucks, and worth it!
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.