Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Tabasco sauce? Great topping for ice cream.

JalapeƱos? Mild, mouth-refreshing chewing gum.

I'd had those long red peppers and those long green peppers, I'd had straight red pepper relish in red pepper juice with my huevos rancheros in Mexico City and sweated it out no-o-o-o problem. I'd graduated, man. Nothing could touch me now.

So when in beautiful Baguio in the Philippines in a cute little sidewalk cafe I ordered an appetizing rice dish from a friendly waiter and the sun was shining and the birds were winging and singing and it was a wonderful world and people smiling and I on my vacation and my meal came looking sooo good and on top were these three cute little green peppers, the cutest trio of pale green tiny-teeny peppers, miniatures of the real thing, right out of Peter Rabbit or a little doll house, like mini-toys so eentsy and cutely cultural, kind of cuddly, I ate all three of them in my first spoonful of rice and my life changed and I became a herd of flaming wild horses stampeding in a desert of blast furnaces beneath a sky full of screaming meteors, with blowtorches for ears and lasers for eyes and then I went blind and then I went deaf and then my skin vaporized and I became the great tree of fire that burns for all eternity and then my bones became charcoal and I had no identity and knowledge went away from me and there was nothingness filled to overflowing with the absence of the passing of time and then there was a spinning with a shrill keening like a white-hot nervous system imploding in razor-sharp fragments toward a naked point of light that had unbearable sounds coming from it and I was whirled through a pinhole of illumination and sizzled molten into a raw body brokenly sprawled in a chair in another world before a plate of rice on a table and the body was going guhhhh....., guhhhhh...., and a waiter was bending over it going Are you all right sir? What happened?

And a woman there, who I later learned was my wife, said He ate three of those cute little green peppers all at once, could that have something to do with it, and the restaurant fell silent, and the waiter said THREE? He ate THREE? At ONCE? Are you sure? And everyone in the restaurant came over to look, saying THREE? He ate THREE? At ONCE?? Are you sure? Oh my god did you hear that, this guy ate THREE at once babble babble and he's still ALIVE babble babble and they watched to see if I stayed alive and could talk and everything, and I said my name, and the year, and how many fingers they held up, and how much was two plus two, and people came crowding in from the street and the neighborhoods around and mobs came in from the countryside saying where's the guy that ate three at once, did it really happen, and I was identified and they asked me all sorts of questions and the crowd started chanting that someone like me should be leading the country, not Marcos, and that Marcos should step aside but I just said get me to the airport quick and got a plane out of there to someplace cool and not long after that Marcos did too.

[Previously published, in sightly different form, in Kyoto Journal and Utne Reader]

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