March 4, 2010 Seth Perkins

“… have some tacos to cool off.”

So, today, I took a bus from Philly to Scranton, to meet up with my dad.  We are preparing for our trip to Louisiana. Today is also my dad’s birthday. In continuing efforts to entertain my father, I thought, for fun, we’d go to a late lunch at this place called “Quaker Steak and Lube”. Ok, before you get to thinking this is the cheesiest lunch plan on the planet, especially for so important a day: hear me out. Quaker Steak and Lube was featured recently on the Travel Channel’s “Man vs Food” (excellent show). The host, Adam, had to eat their most insane hot wings. I thought : this is great idea! What better way to celebrate with my dad then to try climbing Everest! (seriously, though, my other thought was “Dad’s going to get a great laugh”).

I can’t tell you how nervous I actually felt, leading up to the arrival of the basket. Dad had “hot” (3k Scoville Units — measure of hotness). Atomic = 150k units. I ate the first three with zeal and they were delicious!! Then came the pain, chased by lots of milk. As I ate, and Dad gave me the play by play on the sweat pouring off my forehead, I reflected that the worst part was the dual concentration of ignoring the pain, and abating the nausea building in my stomach of the 2 massive glasses of whole milk swirling amid hot sauce (and the pudding I had for breakfast – not a good way to start the day).

Pain upon pain. The heat was only in my lips, tongue and throat, but it was so intense, that the rest of my body actually shivered with cold! Beth, our waitress, was incredible, sympathetic. She had to try all of the sauces, as part of her hiring, so she understood. At the end, she brought me a small cup of chocolate sauce which she said would take down the edge. I wasn’t crying. (maybe tearing). I was tough. Still a man. Still had my deep voice going. She was right about the chocolate helping.

Then Dad said the phrase which locked in my mind. “Well, for dinner, you can have some tacos to cool off.” Probably any third party will think my dad crazy with a line like that. No, Mom just had dinner planned, and Dad was just reminding me, but the delivery made me laugh so much the resulting afterglow in my stomach was slightly frightening. It subsided, as did the pain. “Boy,” my father said, as he does when imparting wisdom, or when he is too embarassed to pronounce my name, ” eating that was a really stupid idea.”

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