Stan was trying to find the hottest chili’s in town for some cooking he had to do for a dinner for a group of West Side pastors. Stan (is it me or is that a weird name for a black guy?) and I have known each other for years, and he’s gotta be the nicest and most thoughtful person I know. He and the other pastors get together once a year for a chili cook-off that helps kids on the West Side attend various summer camps.
Well, I had turned Stan onto a Jamaican, James, who grows chilis and spices in his basement. That’s all I know about what he grows there, ok? James, while a nice enough guy, is sort of detached at times, and this guy has to smoke weed to stay calm. Anyway, Stan wanted me to go with him to James for obvious reasons. Sure, anything for Stan. However, the only day he could go was when I was having lunch with Simon who was an old client of mine, since retired, who wanted me to check out a coffee shop he bought over on Touhy.
I explained to Simon about the chilies and Stan’s cook off, etc, and he said he would like to meet the man. Maybe they could do something together like a Jew/Gentile cook off on the Northside. I sorta chuckled and asked him he thought northsiders would actually go to the ‘hood for dinner. He asked why I would say such a thing, so I said I don’t see too many snowflakes around Stan’s church, like the around Lake and Kilbourn. Simon turned red and said that the word Ghetto wouldn’t be around if it wasn’t for his people, etc. Yeah, ok, let me run that past the guys who chased me from my car to the church last April.
Long story short is that Stan would pick us up in the loop after lunch, drive to his church and introduce Simon to some of the church staff, then we would all ride up to James’, then Stan would take me and Simon home.
So, by 4:00 we’re all standing in James’ kitchen checking out the various chilies. I grabbed a pair of examination gloves James uses when he handles the chilies because some of them really irritate my skin (oh, shut up). But Simon decides to sample a chili without using gloves. Wrong move, Einstein. I don’t know which one it was, ‘cause they’re all too hot for snow flake anyway. Simon hooed and hawed, wow, that’s hot, etc. James got him some milk, yada, yada. Simon is getting restless and wants to bolt over to the coffee shop so he could eat something to get the burn off his tongue. James asks if he could get a ride over there because his sister lives nearby. Sure, whatever, I’m starting to hear that re-occurring drum roll again.
Ok, so this is where the story gets a little weird. We all jump into Stan’s car, with me and Simon in the backseat. We get maybe three blocks and I hear Simon burp, say something about his stomach and then rub his eyes. Yes, he rubbed his eyes with the same fingers that were handling the peppers. Smart move Einstein. Game over. Chili wins again and is still the champion. James is on the phone with someone who is obviously making him very pissed and he starts cussing left and right. Stan tells him to stop cussing, James tells him not to impede on his civil liberties and Simon starts to freak out because his eyes are melting off his face.
Now all I can do is stay real calm, tell James to show Stan some respect, while trying to keep Simon calm and his hands away from his face as he starts to cry out like a little girl who just found her dead hamster. So now we’re sitting at a stop light, I calmly look over at some people waiting for the 82 and I noticed that I was still wearing the examination gloves. I would have loved to have a picture of their faces as they looked at the front seat of the car as a crazy Jamaican exchanged screams with a brother in a lavender-colored suit, while in the back seat an uber clean-cut white dude in a suit, wearing examination gloves and showing no emotion, is holding down the hands of a guy crying.
This, my friends, is what movies are made of.