I’ve never been a big fan of spicy food. As a little kid, I was even scared to put black pepper on my food for fear it’d be like fire in my mouth. I once tried to please my father, a hot sauce lover, by adding two drops of Tabasco to my black eyed peas and rice. Sadly, that was one meal that didn’t get eaten, and I know there were several starving children in China who would’ve gladly consumed it for me.
My biggest bought with hot sauce though is a vividly memorable day in St. Augustine, Florida when I was 13. My father took us there occasion to spend the afternoon wandering the fort and old shops. This particular day, he was on a mission to add to his ever-growing hot sauce collection. It wasn’t long before he discovered Dave’s Total Insanity Sauce.
Immediately, my brothers and I started making bets on who of the three of us could try (and survive) Dave’s Total Insanity Sauce. Assuming I could outsmart my brothers, I went first. I stuck my finger close to the rim without touching it and acted like I tasted it. My older brother realized I had tasted nothing and proceeded to shove my index finger back fully into the jar. Thinking quickly, I licked the tip of my middle finger instead fast enough for him not to notice otherwise. I appeared victorious. My brothers both followed, taking tastes and ending up with watery eyes, runny noses, and sweaty brows. The game was over and we washed our hands and headed off to see more of St. Augustine.
A few minutes later, I mindlessly rubbed an itchy eye. This is when all hell broke loose. I began screaming bloody murder. My eye and much of the right side of my face felt absolutely on fire. Luckily, we were next to a ladies room and my father shoved me in and waited outside. I began flushing my eye with water but it only seemed to be making it worse. My eyes were burning so badly, I could no longer see. I pawed my way out of the bathroom, wailing.
“I’M BLIND! I’M BLIND!” I shrieked, staggering toward a blurry figure I hoped was my father.
My father threw me into a headlock. He wasn't exactly a small man at 6’2” and 250lbs, and me at 5’5 and 100lbs. I was in hysterics as he dragged me down the street with my brothers trailing behind trying to keep me from hearing them laugh. After about 2 blocks, we came upon an old fountain, which happens to be a popular part of the street with many onlookers. This is where my father threw me down, still in a headlock and proceeded to toss as much water in my face as he possibly could with his free hand. All the while I’m still screaming. And then I’m choking from water. And then I’m laughing hysterically as my vision returns and I see about 50 horrified faces, all strangers who happened to be passing by just in time for my performance.
Needless to say, I still shy away from the hot stuff. I’ve added black pepper to my spice rack and occasionally enjoy a bag of Buffalo Ranch Doritos. You won’t see me near a sauce bar or ordering my chicken wings extra spicy. And you definitely won’t find me making bets on who likes it the hottest.
I’m just fine keeping it chill!