Red flecks covered the spoonful of food. I’d been warned that this was ‘extra spicy’. I briefly contemplated the risk vs. reward of what I was about to do.
So far I’ve been able to take a mouth full of what the Thai call ‘spicy’ foods, though rarely ate more. When food is that spicy I can’t taste any of it’s other flavors, so why bother? Still, the best way to discover one’s limits is to go past them. So I put the spoon in my mouth.
Immediate searing pain, a gasp, then the mouth morphed into what reminded me of a furnace with the door open. The fire quickly faded – too quickly, I thought. I chewed and swallowed. It was the swallow that told me what had happened. The pain had stopped because I’d gone past pain into numb. I couldn’t feel much of my mouth.
Attempting to share this discovery with my dining companion, I spoke, only to find I was hearing a version of my voice that sounded like an old man from a cartoon crossed with a frog then run through a synthesiser to make it extra raspy. After a few seconds delay and a swallow of saliva I tried again with the same results. A little water and some time returned my voice to normal. I enjoyed the rest of the meal but didn’t touch the extra spicy dish.
So why do it? Was it a macho thing? Temporary insanity? Pure foolishness? All of those may have been involved. However, at times in my life I have done things for the sole reason of the philosophy best expressed in a line from the song ‘Living in Paradise’ by Elvis Costello: “Never go farther than far too far”. Yes, I know the actual line is “Never go further than floor to floor”, but I didn’t learn that until after practicing the philosophy for over 30 years. For those of you who want to do the math, the song came out in 1979.