Sunday, March 7, 2010

Game of Chicken

I'd be feeling even more great if the snow would stop— we're getting more Monday night!— and if the morning air would be above freezing. That's all I ask.

That was me, three weeks ago. "That's all I ask." Ha. I forgot something. I also ask to be in good enough health to run. I took that for granted.

So, it's another week of being sick, and so Subway Map part deux once again is not done. In fact I went as late as Sunday afternoon thinking I might not have anything for you this week, but then some show on cable reminded me of an incident I was going to write about a long time ago. It's not as long as I usually go, and I was trying to think of something else to combine it with, and I never did. Anyway, here you go. Remember, this is better than nothing.


We get take-out food a lot. It's like we never left the city. Or never left college.

There's this chicken place in town that we had not tried, and one day I was told to go get some chicken pieces there. I won't name it, in case there's some liability here. There are no tables. It's just take-out. They deliver, or you can go to the counter in person. It's over near Seton Hall University, and I think the college students are a good part of the business.

Whatever time this was, I was the only customer there. I looked at the menu and saw that I had a choice of several degrees of spiciness : mild, hot, burning, four alarm, all points, nuclear, and thermonuclear.

Is thermonuclear really an intensifier of nuclear? I don't know the terminology.

It's funny. Many years ago I didn't like hot at all, and Helen had to talk me into eating spicy Chinese or Indian food. But that changed. Now she says hot hurts her stomach, while I'll order Chicken Vindaloo when we're not going to share it.

I decided to order a small bucket, just hot. The counterman questioned me.

"You could get burning. It's pretty hot but you might like it."

"No, my wife doesn't like it too hot. Let's stick with hot, and see how that is, and maybe next time."

"OK, hot." He wrote it down on an order slip and clipped it to a little wheel behind him where the cook could see it.

It was going to be ready in a few minutes. I stood near the counter and watched cars go by outside.

A young guy, probably a college student, came in. He took a look at the menu.

"Let me have a large bucket, thermonuclear."

"No. That's too hot to eat. Nuclear." The counterman wrote it down and was about to put it on the little wheel.

"No, I want thermonuclear."

"It's too hot to eat." The counterman paused. "I don't know why we still have that on the menu. Nobody can eat that. Nuclear." He turned again to put the slip on the wheel.

"No, we like it really really hot. Give me thermonuclear."

"Look." The counterman sighed. "You want something so hot you need to wear gloves to touch it? Something so hot you'll get third degree burns on your tongue? They'll have to take you to the hospital? You'll have to get fed intravenous for a few days while you recover?"

"Yes. That's what I want."

"Well, that's nuclear." He turned again to put the order slip on the wheel.

"I really want thermonuclear."

The counterman looked sad. He looked back and forth as if to assure himself that I was the only witness to what was about to happen. As if to make sure the Authorities were not watching.

"OK, I will give you thermonuclear. But you have to sign this form."

He reached under the counter and took out a half slip of paper. It was a printed form. I could almost read it from where I was standing.

"Here. Sign this."

I got a better look. It said something like this:

I have been advised that thermonuclear chicken is too hot to eat and is a danger to my health. I have decided of my own free will to order it anyway. I will not hold the staff or management of XXXX Chicken responsible for the consequences of my decision.

The young guy hesitated a moment and then signed it. The counterman closed his eyes and shook his head. With a sigh, he signed it. "Hey Al," he called.

The cook came out. He saw the form.

"Oh no." He looked sad. He looked at the young guy. "Are you sure?"

"Yes! I want thermonuclear."

"Oh my God." Al, the cook, signed the form as a witness. "Remember, this is your decision."

"OK! I want thermonuclear."

"You don't know what you're doing." Al turned to the counterman. "We have to take that off the menu." Al went back into the kitchen, shaking his head regretfully.

The counterman took a date stamp and stamp pad from under the counter, and turned the date to the right day, and inked the stamp and marked it on the form. He put the form into a small box, and put the stamp and pad away.

"Next time, I can say I already signed that, right?"

"Kid. There ain't gonna be a next time."

The cook came out with a bag and gestured to me. "Here's your order. Enjoy!"

I left. I never found out what happened. The chicken wasn't that great so I didn't go back.

Next time: Subway Map II.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm. If I found the place you're talking about, not only is thermonuclear still on the menu, but they have something even hotter called 911 that requires a waiver. Thermonuclear doesn't seem to need one now. :-)