From Random Memories, by Ken Hutchison © 2015
Christmas Chili Cook Off, 1988
Tonya and I were first married. Our little house in Boulder had a small but efficient kitchen. I sometimes miss it because everything was practically in arm’s reach.
I’d never signed up to do the cook-off here at work. I guess because I was in my second year, and had absolutely no idea that annually the machinists, engineers, techs, and all of the other people who are smarter than me toss various ingredients into saucepans the evening before the event, simmer the crap out of them, and the following morning place them in crock pots throughout the manufacturing building.
They’re placed strategically, so there is absolutely no escaping the smell, no matter how pleasing or hideous it may be. But, when all of the smells were together in one area it was tough to tell the good from the bad. Thus I had no idea of the wretched culinary abortion that I took into my mouth, known as “pheasant chili.” I literally gagged. Politely of course, since I was in a social setting. That’s when I decided I could do better.
So, a year later, Chef Kenny is hard at work in the kitchen. Slicing onions to Steely Dan tunes, chopping tomatoes to the Doobie Brothers. Jalapenos were next, but I decided I needed a potty break.
I went in, did the ol’ #1, washed my hands, and came out to continue. Then it happened.
The flaming pain began slowly in my pants. “It” was beginning to smolder. The wonders of capsicum. You see, we’re all taught to wash after going, but never before.
“MOTHER OF GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE?!” was the first thought that came to mind. “MOTHER OF GOD WHAT DO I DO?” is what came next. Actually, the “mother” part of those phrases was correct, the other words aren’t accurate. I’m protecting you, dear reader, from my actual thoughts.
I shoved the cutting board aside, making dang sure that the knife was over arm’s-length away from me in case of seizure, which I felt was about to happen. All I could think of doing was putting out what seemed to be an inferno inside my BVDs.
Water. Water puts out fire, right?
So, I drop my pants, stand on my toes, grab the sprayer nozzle and begin to douse the invisible roaring flames, soaking down the counter, my remaining clothes and everything else around the area. This was sheer panic as it was getting worse, not better. I wanted to get in the sink but there’s no way I’d have fit.
That’s when Tonya put down her purse and keys on the table behind me.
I didn’t hear her come through the door because of the water. We’d been married for just over a year. She thought I was doing some weird, kinky water sport.
I told her what happened.
When she stopped laughing — and that took a while — she called “Ask a Nurse” and put it on speaker. I told the nurse that I’d burned my hands; Tonya’s laughing and yelling in the background that it wasn’t true, I’d burned something else.
I was told honey is the magic cure, but I’d probably want to wear gloves since it would stick to everything. Tonya’s laughing even harder at this point, tears streaming down her cheeks as I’m shoveling through the cabinets in search of the little bottle shaped like a bear that held the golden antidote.
All I can say is it worked fast. I ended up ditching the chili.
Jalapenos gave me PTSD: Profound Tortuous Self-immolation Directly on my manhood.
Thanks Ken. I ever-so-gently edited this -JG
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