Kiss from a ghost



Article: Farron Ager – Oped Editor

We were somewhere around Rochdale, on the edge of the city, when the hunger began to take hold. I remember saying something like “I’m feeling hungry. Maybe we should get food.” Suddenly there was an unnervingly intoxicating smell all around us and we soon found ourselves staring with wild eyes at a sign in the window of a restaurant, beckoning us to partake in a limited time delicacy: The Ghost Pepper Burrito.

Now, there is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of a capsaicin binge. You find yourself violently and arbitrarily being jerked between a state of unmitigated ecstasy normally saved for spiritual epiphanies and the frothing madness reserved for those that go over the edge.

The burrito itself came in two variants: Wimpy and Hotter Than Hell. Being the unabashed men we assumed ourselves to be, we decided that neither of us could possibly suffer the embarrassment of settling for less and opted for the latter, giving no thought on the morrow. We strode into the restaurant with the confidence of a couple of Norse deities and stood bravely in line to place our order, the first step in our undoubtedly heroic quest. The restaurant worker snickered as we each ordered the unholy creation as if to say that, despite our outward tenacity, nothing could prepare us for what we were to experience.

For those who are unaware of the truly malicious pepper, no doubt some spawn of churlish witchcraft, it generally registers over 1,000,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units) on the Scoville scale. To provide comparison, the much more common jalapeno reads, at most, a mere 8,000 SHU. To top it off, I feel the need to add that people have found many other uses for the Ghost Pepper besides consumption. These uses include weaponizing into a hand grenade as a means for riot control and the pepper is commonly seen lining fences around homes and farms to keep bothersome wild elephants at bay.

We believed it to be fitting that we should watch the Simpsons episode “El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer,” the episode where Homer ingests the Guatemalan insanity peppers at a chili cook-off. Surely, there was no more appropriate episode to kick off our descent into a capsaicin binge. With bottles of water next to our plates, we began to tuck into what I was assured would be a sumptuous meal.

The first bite had no effect. The surely sulfurous fumes, emanating from the now gaping hellmouth of rice and chicken and pepper, did not abate my hunger and once again I soon indulged in another hearty bite.

That was when I realized that the second bite was a mistake.

I clawed at my mouth frantically but all that did was further spread the napalm-like substance. A piece of the pepper found itself ensconced between my teeth – my tongue trying desperately to pry it loose. As I soon found out, that was also a mistake.

I looked over to my compatriot to see how he fared and was greeted with a brow of heavy sweat and a face so terribly scarlet that I initially mistook him for having a myocardial infarction. Even though our confidence began to wane, he assuaged my fears and we continued our process of self-inflicted masochism.

Undeterred by our painful convulsions for the next hour, we managed to slay the beasts in their entirety and emerge as heroes. But at what cost, you may ask. My compatriot later regaled to me the aftermath, likening it to the napalm bits of the Vietnam War. As for I, after it was all said and done, I swear that I had touched the face of God that night and it left me a scarred man.


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