Summer has come at last, full swing, and all my questions about what New Yorkers meant when they said that summer is sweltering here and that the whole city smells like garbage are being answered. Today I went from place to place in search of adventure, and following me like a flea was the persistent smell of dog piles. Yes, I checked my shoes, but apparently this is what Queens smells like in the summer. The garbage piles smell like your slop pail on an extra ripe day as they await pickup, and in a city this huge, it’s always trash day somewhere.
The heat has been muggy enough to rival North Carolina, and I lie on my bed emitting waves of warmth, wondering if I should break down and buy an AC unit for my room. But surely it will only be this warm for about two months, right? Summer can’t last until November like it does in North Carolina. And besides, I’m saving for a trip to an undisclosed location this winter, and surely I can make it, right? Right? Ask me again in a month; it’s likely I’ll either have melted into a puddle of sweat, or have broken my resolves, we’ll see. We do have one little AC unit in my living room window, the farthest corner possible from my bedroom, and about as old as Methuselah. It chugs along valiantly, doing little except upping the electric bill and providing 5 square feet of cool to drink my coffee in. But I’m not complaining! This weather also means I can dash about the city without carrying a coat and boots and mittens just in case it decides to snow in April. So there are perks. And besides, after an exceedingly brazen heat wave, we have now had a day or two of delicious temperatures before the thermometer climbs up again. I’m grateful.
Speaking of heat, last night was the final hurrah for a Bible study group I’ve been attending, so to finish off with a bang, somebody had the brilliant idea to hold a “Who’s the hottest?” contest, which was not a catwalk as it sounds. Rather, it was a hot sauce eating contest involving sauces dreamed up by an evil scientist tucked in a lab somewhere, hating humanity and gleefully rubbing his papery dry hands together with a cackle whenever he finds a new pepper that’s the hottest yet. I volunteered to join, because surewhynot, but only later paused to realize that not only does the hot sauce hurt going in, it also has…consequences. Why do I do these things?
Anyhow, I couldn’t very well back out, so even when the qualifying round effectively burned a hole in my duodenum, I decided I had to stay in the game. Family pride and all that. After all, my mother makes sauces so spicy that for weeks afterward the stainless steel kettles used make everything they cook spicy, regardless of the amount of scrubbing they endure. We had habanero plants in our garden when I was growing up, and there’s even a photo somewhere of tiny me holding a huge pepper plant almost bigger than myself. So. I advanced to round two, and three, and as the contestants dropped in agony by the wayside, I persisted, my stubborn German calm putting a smile on my face as I surveyed the other brave souls sweating it out with me. After round four, the spiciest one, I managed for about three minutes until my mouth erupted into flames and I had to take a drink of milk to avoid scorching my hair. I gulped ice cream and bread while the two remaining contenders bravely struggled on for another dose of #4, the sweat and tears flowing, until we had to put it to a vote for the winner since we didn’t want to call the EMTs. Hurrah for L, the reigning hottest champion!
Now all we contenders have to live normal lives for the next day or two while the hot sauce continues to do its thang. If you’re wondering, yes, my stomach still feels weird the next morning, and I’m regretting putting kimchi in my lunch today. But it was a blast, and I’d do it again! But maybe not just after spending days struggling through a massive amount of stir fry that I acquired which was almost too spicy to eat. Then again, perhaps that’s why I managed as long as I did- all my taste buds were already turned to ashes.
Well, I have many things to say unto you, brethren, stories of visitors to the city and flying trips to North Carolina, but duty calls. I’ll be back.
A Year Ago:
Two Years Ago:
The Single Years of the Good Mennonite Girl (My most popular post to date, I believe)