Reporter’s Notebook: Spicy assignment too much to stomach

 However, my confidence began to wane when Carey brought over a paper thimble with a sample of the Carolina reaper chile pepper mash. The aroma was reminiscent of sriracha hot sauce, but much stronger and more acidic. I knew it was going to burn. Really burn.

Can I do this? Should I do this?

But it was too late to run. I had to go through with it.

Carey set my double-patty Nuke Burger and wings in front of me. My stomach started to turn, and any remaining confidence was quickly snuffed out. He said he usually delivers the burger wearing a gas mask but said he’d spare me the theatrics.

Slightly trembling with fear, I locked my eyes on the burger and thought about a quote my girlfriend had sent me by “Parks and Recreation” TV character Ron Swanson: “When I eat, it is the food that is scared.”

I was ready. I thanked Carey, grabbed the burger, peeled back some of the wrapper and took a big bite.

I was hit by a barrage of spicy punches. The reaper mash hit me with a hook, the ghost pepper chili jack cheese followed with an uppercut, and then I was bombarded by a salvo of jabs from the seasoned patties, jalapenos and sauce.

The first two or three bites were fine, but the heat quickly built up. I couldn’t feel my lips or tongue, and every tissue in my mouth seemed to be on fire. I was sweating profusely, and tears flowed from my eyes to the burger. Nothing eased the pain.

I threw my glasses off my face and continued to take bites, but every one felt like I was shoving pins into my mouth.

I got about halfway through the burger before calling it quits.

Carey gave me a cup of the most heavenly vanilla ice cream I’ve ever eaten. But as I was shoveling it down, Carey reminded me of the wings.

How could I forget about the wings? Why did I order wings?

So I put the ice cream down, picked up a wing, took a bite, swallowed, threw the wing back in the basket and began jumping around from the pain in my mouth.

My stomach hurt, and I left work early. That night, my girlfriend laughed at the video Brittany had taken of me at the restaurant.

We went to an outdoor screening of “E.T.” and I sat in my camping chair watching the little alien heal Elliott’s cut finger.

I wish E.T. had been there to heal the “ouch” in my stomach.

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