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Not me.  I like it mild.  Whatever comes in mild, medium, or HOT – I’ll take mine mild.

On those days when I’m feeling wild and brave, with rolls, bread, and a pitcher of water at my elbow, I’ll be daring and go for the medium.  But never HOT.

These HOT folks must be closet masochists.  Have you ever watched them eat this stuff?  I’ve sat across from a friend and wondered if he realizes he’s paying for this cruel and unusual punishment.   

Watching him eat a steak is an enlightening experience.  He’ll ask for horseradish on the side and then slather that white, chunky condiment onto each fork full of meat like a plasterer patching holes in drywall.  It looks like he’s eating marshmallows for cryin’ out loud.

And speaking of crying – I swear, half way through these torturous meals, I’m mesmerized by the red flush creeping up his neck, causing his cheeks and nose to turn crimson, his ears to glow, and his nose to drip.  When the tears start, he grins – a horseradish-eating grin.  Don’t tell me that’s not masochism. 

One night celebrating a friend’s promotion at a Chinese restaurant,  I absentmindedly plopped a couple of dollops of that HOT yellow mustard on my dinner, mistaking it for the sweet and sour sauce.  I mixed it through my pork lo main and took a bite.  I was eating, talking, and sipping my Mai Tai, when I suddenly realized I was breathing heavily: almost hyper-ventilating.  

Then it hit me – an eruption of fire that seared the inside of my mouth, liquefied the fillings in my teeth, disintegrated the lining of my throat, and looking down, I was sure had burned a hole right through my stomach and the sweater I was wearing.    Take notice – there is no bread in a Chinese restaurant.

And just this summer, I had an accidental HOT taste of Mexican food at a family picnic.  Again, talking, eating, drinking, and grazing the buffet-laid spread, when the flame of the habanero & jalapeno salsa – which was clearly marked – hit my lips, and the first thing I grabbed was my Margarita.  Isn’t salt used to put out fire?  

Foolish, foolish me – drinking Margarita’s is why I hadn’t even seen the foot-high sign with the five peppers on it.  Madre de Dios – I hoped to die.

So, for me it’s mild – at least until the next round of Margarita’s, Mai Tai’s, Cosmo’s, Long Island Ice Tea’s, or whatever.  Say, you don’t think it could be…naw.

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