The Pepper – Book Excerpt

Another excerpt from my currently in progress book Insufferable.  I highly recommend reading this first excerpt or the ending joke makes no sense.  Happy Sunday night, everybody!

The Pepper

It was August 2003 when I met the woman who would be my wife.  The days were still long, temperatures warm and barbeques were frequent.  We met at school and started dating a just a few months into our college life, but before we dated we were awkwardly attracted to each other and unable to really express anything because at 18 years of age we were dumb.

So we spent time together.  A lot of time together.  One weekend she invited the whole college clique we had formed over to her parents’ house for a barbecue.

This was the first time I met her father.  He had heard my name tossed around in conversation at some point and, not being an idiot, knew I was into his daughter and she quite fancied me in return (note: be a writer, you get to use silly words like ‘fancied’).  He let me know he knew this about our relationship.

I sat in a rocking patio chair with a big fluffy cushion on it, across from me sat my soon to be girlfriend and someday wife in an equally comfy, equally rocky chair.  I have no idea what we were talking about, but despite being surrounded by friends and food, it felt like no one else was there.  That only served to make the sudden appearance of her father rather frightening.

“You want some of this?” he said (or some variation on the term.  I am pretty sure I heard the most terrifying phrase available).  I could not make out his facial features; he was just a silhouette against the sun.  His hand was holding something and it was drawing nearer to my face.

“Sure,” I said.  I’m certain I would have agreed to anything.

“She said you liked spicy food,” he said.

He handed me part of the spiciest pepper I had ever encountered.  A bit went to me, a bit to my wife and the rest he just chomped in one fell swoop.

Sweet googly moogly this is how I die! I thought to myself as the capsaicin of the pepper poisoned my blood and boiled away my bones.

My soon to be girlfriend, someday wife did not react.  I tried to hide my incomprehensible pain as well.

“Alright, I guess you can hang out with my daughter,” her father said as he stepped away and returned to the grill.

It was a moment forever scorched to my memory (and lost taste buds).  I was tested.  I passed.  I sat in the comfy, rocky, outdoor chair and hoped I was not sweating too much.

I have no idea if my wife remembers this happening.  I hope not.  I was still sporting the early 2000s spiked hair look that I wore through high school and did not own a shirt outside the shade of ‘dark black’ and covered with some edgy screamo band’s logo.  I have no idea why she liked me at the time.  I knew why I liked her.

She and her family had taken a trip to Hawaii just a few months prior.  Most of my early encounters with her she was wearing a souvenir shirt from that trip or rocking any number of purple shirts prominently featuring butterflies.  She did whatever she liked and was by far the most punk rock person I had ever met.  I was in love from the start.  She took some convincing, but at the end of the day my terrible jokes won out…in bed.

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