I don’t advocate violence against children. But as a kid, I was punchable. I commend my father for not dropping me off somewhere. Like, say, deep in Mexico. And then growing a mustache and changing his name.
Forbidden by laws and morals to do harm to our kids, parents find other ways. Piano lessons. Brussels sprouts. Falcon’s Crest.
My dad, cunningly, used pizza. At a pie joint in Big Bear City, he pointed to a bottle of red and yellow flakes. He dared me to take one of them—just one—and put it on the end of my tongue.
I scoffed. They were tiny! Wussfood! Not wanting to back down and lacking the mental acuity to sense a good trap when I saw one… I did exactly that.
I sat there, tongue out, that little red dot perched on the tip. Five seconds. Nothing. Ten seconds. Nothing.
Ha! I scoffed in his general direction.
Fool! My tongue was obviously a bad-ass. A callous appendage that may have a teardrop tattoo that I’m unaware of. If I stuck a spoon in my mouth, it would come out a shank.
Then it started to creep. A little buzz at first. Then it got a little hotter. My neener-neener-neener smile started to weaken. And hotter. My lips quivered a bit. Then it started to BURN. Like I’ve heard peeing does when you’ve been indiscriminate with your affections in the wrong part of town.
Then, ohholyjesustractorpullyeeeeeowwww… it felt like the time my sister told me it was cool and fun to pour hot candlewax on my face because it would make an awesome mask.
I spit it out. I held the dainty, wet little flake in my hand. I looked at it with an expression of pain and confusion. Painfusion. I felt like I’d just had the crap kicked out of me by Tinkerbell.
Gone from my mouth, I figured the pain would stop. Nope. Got worse. How does that work?! I felt like I’d been carjacked, managed to throw the jacker out of my car, only to realize he’d cut the brakes and passed some truly offensive gas.
I grabbed water, started gulping it. Relief? No. It just spread the pain to my entire piehole. My dad was crying from the laughter. He was on the floor. Revenge was his.
Nose running, eyes watering, my tongue waving in the air like it’s having a seizure… I looked my dad straight in the eye, squinted so he could really understand the gravity of what I was about to tell him… and said,
“Dude. That. Was. Awesome.”
I’ve loved spicy food ever since. Maybe I like to hurt myself. Not a lot. I’m not gonna carve an ex-girlfriend’s name into my thigh. But spice? Yes, please.
The next episode of Crave is my journey across America to find the perfect spicy food. And my effort to comprehend why, when I was 10, I had my a** kicked by a tiny little red flake of wussfood. And liked it.
Crave airs Friday, 11:30PM EST/8:30PM PST on Food Network.
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