Gotta have that hot stuff

Here’s the song reference.

Manie’s love of extremely spicy edibles is nearly legendary in our family; it’s one of our major differences in matters of taste.  I like my food flavorful, but heat and I don’t get along terribly well.  He, however, is the king of jolokia, which means there is usually at least one bottle of hot sauce gracing our table at every meal.  This is terribly fascinating to Mr. Man, who regards the assortment of narrow-necked bottles with awed curiosity; his interest is only intensified by our insistence that he not touch the bottles in question, as some of them contain concoctions that have actually burned my skin!

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On Saturday, we traveled over several rivers and a couple of woods to Grandma’s house, as we customarily do near St. Nicholas Day; Pop-Pop, her father, was of German extraction, so she enjoys hosting a little celebration at her house in the early part of December each year.  It’s also the day we help her put up her Christmas tree, a pre-lit number that always gets oohs and aahs from the tiny people, as it is a fairly large one.  Once the tree is up and little surprises from Grandma have been opened, we sit down to a feast with Grandma.

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Grandma goes to great lengths to make sure there is something on her table that is a favorite of each of her grandchildren, and that there is always a big bowl of olives for Beanie and Mr. Man, who are fanatical about them.  It is almost always the case that by the time we sit down to the table, the entire tribe has managed to break into the chocolates Grandma gave them and devour at last half of them, which means their consumption of nourishing food is a little spare.  While Bugaboo and Beanie were still sitting at the table, Bugaboo with a mound of strawberries, Beanie with piles of lox and olives, Mr. Man was checking out Grandma’s refrigerator.  He’s only recently discovered that he has both the height and the strength to winkle the big sealed doors open, and he derives a nearly maniacal glee from checking out the contents of every icebox he meets.

Manie and I alternated between feeding Baby Guy what tidbits we could and keeping tabs on Mr. Man’s exploration of Grandma’s kitchen appliances.  Of course, there were those moments when neither of us was looking at him.  The result of the first of these was Mr. Man’s delighted entry into the dining room, waving a plastic juice lemon and delightedly proclaiming, “I want juice now, please!”  We were able to convince him, after an argument that bordered on circularity, that Grandma would be sad if she went looking for the sunshine bottle and found it empty, and that he should return it to its proper place.

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Moments later, Mr. Man streaked past us into the living room.  Manie, Grandma and I exchanged glances before Manie quickly pursued him.  Mr. Man generally only passes us at speed when he’s clutching something he ought not have.  This was, of course, the case, and Manie laughed heartily a couple of seconds later when he realized that our elder son’s prize was Grandma’s bottle of Tabasco.  Grandma, of course, does not live with tiny people, and thus does not close every bottle and jar with a wrench (metaphorically speaking, of course) to prevent accidental openings and spillage.  We now had a two-year old with an open bottle of hot sauce and unsatisfied curiosity.

I was genuinely surprised when he didn’t immediately vomit after he took a swig, particularly given the amount of chocolate and olives with which he’d stuffed himself.  Actually, he liked it — no tears, no complaints, at least not until we took the bottle away from him.

The two-hour car trip home, however, got a little eventful when we hit a patch of choppy traffic.

Yesterday morning, we sat down to our usual large Sunday repast, which in this particular case involved individual cheese omelets.  I had made Manie’s last so I could scramble hot sauce directly into the eggs, which he loves, but which renders the pan unusable for anyone else until it’s been washed.  As Manie was not in the kitchen while I was cooking, he was unaware of this trivium, and stopped at the fridge on the way to his chair to get a bottle of one of his favorites, a potion so spicy that it comes with a tiny spoon and a warning label.  It’s the only one that has nearly done him in (which was my fault for unintentionally putting a little too much of it in his tom kha gai one night).  I warned him about the pre-existing jolokia elixir in his eggs, and he returned the bottle to the fridge.

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Mr. Man was quite dismayed by that turn of events, and promptly set up a staccato series of urgent requests that a bottle of hot sauce be immediately removed from the refrigerator and placed within his reach.  Manie hunted around until he found a bottle of ordinary hot sauce, as opposed to the stuff with warning labels, which Mr. Man happily proceeded to dump on his omelet — just like Daddy.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your little blessings, and for their nearly limitless ability to observe and emulate.  Please grant us the grace of conducting ourselves in a manner we want them to emulate, and humility when we fail to do so.  Please help us teach them wisdom as we go, and that while we feel always a deep gratitude and awe towards the bounty and variety of foodstuffs You created, we are cautious about how we combine those.  Make us an example of moderation in all things except joy, and grant that we may always have plastic bags, wipes, and a clean shirt when we travel.


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