Because it was my backside rather than my front side facing the poodle as I sat down on the chair she had already taken up residence in, I can only imagine the look of fear in her eyes as she pressed herself tighter and tighter against the back of the chair with my big butt relentlessly closing in. Surely she believed that this was the end of the line for her. She didn’t even have time to scream (or bark or growl). Fortunately, though, I felt her bony body huddled in the back of the chair and realized something was seriously awry before I put my full weight into the chair and sat back firmly on her. She would not have survived that, I fear.
Now, you may be wondering what this has to do with my pretending to be something I am not. Let me explain.
Our church had Big House Sunday this morning. That means that we had music, food, games, and frivolity (as much as Methodists are allowed to have) out on the street. Lisa, Evan, and I were helping with some of the food items. This all started at about 7:15 a.m. for me and ended five hours later. After thousands of trips up and down the stairs in our old church (including one trip during which I disturbed someone who was sleeping inside) and helping with the very hot jobs of frying hash browns and popping popcorn, I was very warm, my legs hurt, and I was ready to go out with my family for a nice relaxing lunch.
As we talked in the car about where we should go for lunch, my sole requirement was that we had to go someplace with air conditioning where it would be pretty cool. This ruled out the local Chinese buffet as it is usually quite warm and steamy there. We decided to go to Buffalo Wild Wings, one of Evan’s favorite places because of their video trivia and other games.
We only started going to Buffalo Wild Wings a year or so ago. I really had never had chicken wings before we started going there but I have since come to like their boneless wings. Buffalo Wild Wings is known for having fourteen sauces they can put on their wings, ranging from the very mild Smilin’ Sweet BBQ (which is what Lisa gets) all the way up to Blazin’. I was gradually working my way up through the sauces, convinced it was a way of displaying my manhood and proving to my family just how incredibly macho I am. He has the stomach of a 20-year-old, they'd say. In fact, maybe three or four 20-year-olds!
I had handled all of the sauces reasonably well, including the Asian Zing, Caribbean Jerk, and Screamin’ Hot BBQ. Truth be told, I guess that Screamin’ Hot was sort of pressing my limits. I should have respected that but, no, I had to try to prove that I am more than I am. At church, we talk a lot about our “journeys” as Christians. This relates to how we’re growing in our faith and commitment and in how we allow God to live through us. It’s a never-ending thing, really, as we strive to live a supernatural life and truly operate with the mind of Christ. In my mind, I was sort of likening my trip up the scale of Buffalo Wild Wing sauces to my faith journey. I was hoping that even when I made it all the way to Blazin’, I’d be screaming “Come on, bring it on! You call that hot? Why, my grandmother could handle that! Invent something new for me – Super Duper Habanero! Bring it on, baby! I’m a man and I can take it!”
Unfortunately, and in a most painful way, I hit the end of the road today for my Buffalo Wild Wings Sauce Journey when I chose Hot sauce for my boneless wings. Hot is fourth from the top on their list of sauces. For the last several sauces, at the waitress’s suggestion, I have been ordering Ranch dressing with my wings, to help soften the heat a bit. I should have known something was up today when she offered me celery sticks as well. But, being the macho guy that I am, I refused them. I swear that I heard her gasp slightly when I told her I didn't want any celery.
I also thought that I heard a small nuclear explosion come from the kitchen when they were making my order. That was confirmed when I took my first bite. There was not enough Ranch dressing nor root beer in the world to temper the potency of that stuff. I asked Evan if steam was coming out of my ears. I was convinced that it had to be. I only ate about half of my wings, certain that my lips, tongue, mouth and throat were about to swell up and choke off my respiration. I left the restaurant knowing full well that I had reached my limit. I could not go on pretending to be something I am not. I was not going to conquer the full range of Buffalo Wild Wing sauces. I would need to start working my way down the sauce scale to find my ultimate comfort level. Unless I am feeling terribly suicidal, I could never carry on to Mango Habanero, much less Wild sauce.
Just as I was fearing, though, my time at Buffalo Wind Wings did not end my experience with their Hot sauce. Throughout the day since then, things have been going on with my body which I could not possibly write about. Scary things. My stomach has been rolling and rumbling all afternoon and evening, as if Rosemary’s baby is inside of me and really wanting out.
But, being the strong man that I am, I kept going throughout the day, having fun with my family and even eating dinner. A couple of hours after dinner, though, I’d had all I could take. My stomach was a mess. My head was pounding. There was a taste in my mouth that no amount of teeth brushing could touch. I finally could go no further. I collapsed into one of our comfortable recliners. And sat on the poodle.