I fought the fire and the fire won

By Jim Callicott

In my humble opinion, and I am usually never humble about anything, spicy and food should be synonymous. Put a bowl of Cajun gumbo and a bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce in front of me and you will see a culinary smile lasting all day. Nachos without jalapeños should be against the law. How long would a Mexican restaurant that serves chips with ranch dressing stay in business?  

You catch my drift about the spicy stuff. But now I have to bow my head and admit I have met my match. I have been over peppered and defeated by a drop of liquid red condiment from a certain establishment in Gatlinburg.

The love of spice and heat brought me into this business. I embellished my taste buds while observing rows and rows of the bottled good stuff. Wandering the aisles in amazement I overheard a sales lady ask these two macho looking males if they would like to sample the hottest sauce in America. That got my attention.

The macho guys it appears where from the land of Northern Exposure where people wouldn’t know a good hot sauce from a glass of cold buttermilk. But the macho guys said yea, they could handle anything. I have eaten a bowl of mild Yankee soup up north that they mistakenly labeled as chili, which would insult even the youngest Texan. I wanted to watch this scene play out.

The lady placed a single drop of liquid red on a round tortilla chip and gave it to the machos. They both place the chip in their mouth and chewed six or seven time before gasping for air and heading for the soft drink machine.

Punks, I thought as I approached the sales lady and asked for a taste of the hot stuff. She placed a single drop on a tortilla chip and handed it to me. Chip and sauce went in the mouth. I chewed a few times and my first instinct was it tastes good. Another couple of chews and I was attacked by a fire directly from Hades. Hot is too mild of a word to describe the sensation.

I smiled at the lady, remarked that it was a little warm to the taste and walked around the counter to another aisle where I promptly fell to the floor and drew up in a fetal position, tears streaming from my eyes and nose running like a broken facet. I was not ready to give up my macho image to the public.

Another sales lady approached me and said, “Sir, are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” I answered, “I’m just looking at the items on the bottom shelf.”

“Sir, you’re looking at the broom and dustpans.” She replied.

“And they are very good quality, just what I would expect to find here,” I said somewhat embarrassed. Truth is I couldn’t open my tear flooded eyes enough to see what I was looking at.

By the time I reached a sitting position my handkerchief was soaking wet. Somehow I got to my feet and made it out of the store desperately seeking the men’s room. I passed the macho guys hanging on to the wall with their second round of soft drinks. “Sissies,” I mumbled as I passed by.

I found the men’s room and discovered a hand dryer, no paper towels. Hand dryers should be illegal as they are powered by electricity which comes from coal. Paper towels come from trees which can be replenished. I did find bathroom tissue and went through approximately half a roll blowing my nose and wiping the tears. Thank goodness no one has invented an electric device for the commode.

There hours later and I was beginning to come back to normal except for the burning sensation in my throat. The only positive thing that came from the experience is someone slapped a “Wall of Flame Survivor” sticker on my chest. For a while I was wondering about the survivor part. I had the sticker framed.


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