E before I…

E before I…except after… Pie? I before E, except after … My?

I used to know, really, and it didn’t even have to rhyme. But no longer.

Seems that one of the first things to slip out the back door without much fanfare is spelling. I used to be on a quite firm footing here, and didn’t have to look up correct spelling very often. Never, actually. Things just looked right or not.

But now…an ever- lenghthening list of things I’m just not sure of anymore. At worst, I would find myself taking an occasional 80/20 shot at a word, and just use the instinct; did it look right? Good, then go with it.

And now… I’ll have to sit and stare at recieve/receive, or…occasion/occassion…or embarass/ embarrass/ embarras ( I’m going to go with Door #2, Alex, but it’s down to about a 25/75 probability…)

This is quite annoying. I recall the Desiderata counseling that I should gracefully surrender the things of youth, but I really thought they would be talking about things ( at least initially)  that you wouldn’t mind giving up anyway, like drinking a bottle of Southern Comfort and waking up on some guy’s lawn at dawn, in a rainstorm, face-down in wet leaves. ( Yes, it did. No, I’m not. I might have been at the time.)

But spelling?? Come on, I kind of need that. Can’t we start with something a bit more colorful, say? I’ve already sworn off trying to make my own hot sauce ( because of the Incident)…

A quick description, then, and this stands as an excellent example of something that age and experience teaches one to avoid at any cost. Here’s the recipe:

Roger’s Five-Minute Homemade Habanero Sauce:

First, grow gorgeous ( I think that’s spelled right…) backyard tomatoes; the first homegrown attempt at habanero peppers ( they were so adorable, just little orange puffy things) and onion ( Vidalia, if possible ). Before starting, drink a lot of your favorite beverage, so that you”ll really, really have to go to the rest room quickly. ( An enlarged prostate gland is helpful here…one more thing I’d rather not surrender gracefully, thank you…)

Now, for this part, you’ll need a timer; set it to five minutes, and …begin.

Get all your diced ingredients into a large serving bowl, and while dicing the habaneros make sure not to wear any protective gloves or anything like that. They’re orange, for God’s sake, aren’t they just the cutest things? Then, mix tomatoes, peppers and onions thoroughly, and test immediately with your favorite brand of corn chips.

We should be a few minutes in now…plenty of time yet…

Notice that it’s not very hot at all. Very mild, really. Add more peppers.

Two minutes to go.

Things I Didn’t Know At The Time;

The substance in peppers that makes them hot is called capsaicin;

Habaneros have a capsaicin level that is 100 times higher than a jalapeno or a cayenne pepper. High- capsaicin level peppers are…orange…not red, as most people would think.

Now the fun part.

You have sampled heavily, shared some with your spouse; and are now dicing more habaneros to add. You’re secretly a bit disappointed, because you had heard that these peppers were very spicy. That’s why you grew some, after all. And while considering even adding a few jalapenos to remedy this rather pedestrian sauce…

Your face explodes.

Aparently, it takes high levels of capsaicin a few minutes to engage fully.

Your sinuses have decided to abandon all hope, and are trying to crawl out your nose. There is absolutely no passage of air, because your throat is completely constricted and your lungs are not functioning. There is a searing fiery pain spreading through your bronchial tubes. You cannot see. Liquids of several forms are streaming from your eyes and nose. Your fingers hurt; capsaicin sinks right through the skin.

You start rubbing your eyes frantically. At first, your spouse is laughing…but then, not so much. Share and share alike…

The pain is excruciating. The panic is mounting. You really can’t breathe. You can’t gather enough breath to shout “911.”  And then…the pressure is too great. You must race immediately to the rest room; because there are still a few body parts that have not yet been contaminated…

Now they are. Notice that when you scream in a bathroom, the acoustics are actually very good.

You plunge your hands into cold water and wash everything frantically. You splash water in your eyes. You gulp down cold water.

The pain actually intensifies. ( One more thing that I didn’t know about capsaicin.)

Blinded, suffocating and panic-stricken, you realize  that the high-pitched shreiking/ shrieking you hear must be coming from you somehow. Your genitals are trying to recede into your intestinal tract. Your intestinal tract wants nothing to do with this whole thing, and is barring entry. Your eyes have turned into gelatinous muck.

And once again, you find yourself on the lawn, face down in wet leaves, pleading for a merciful death. But no…you will survive, and live to write a blog post to warn the others.

And…stop.  Time’s up.

Five minutes, start to finish. You did not die, although if there were a gloriously bright tunnel of light like there’s supposed to be, you would have run straight into it, screaming for help.

*****

They’re in your local produce section…lurking. Right there, in plain sight. They mix them right in with the others, the big friendly green and red peppers. They’ll sit right beside the jalapenos and cayennes, the ones that people are wary of. They’re small, and orange, and very unassuming. They may not kill you, but they will do their level best to change the course of your life. Not bad for $2.99 a pound.

Hey…maybe it’s the capsaicin that ‘s affecting my capacity to spell. Or do I mean effecting…

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