Pain Is Good

I love spicy food. No, I’m not some kind of daredevil freaky person who enjoys self-destruction through excitement, and who looks for the spiciest food out there. Nah. I have a pretty strong tolerance for spicy food, so I like to eat it. It tastes good.

Salsa is something that I like to eat with a kick. My poor mom can hardly handle the mildest of medium salsas before drinking straight from the faucet with fervor, but I can handle quite a bit more than that. I honestly hate that piddly-ass sweet and weak shit that most people pass off as spicy salsa. “Hot”, my ass. I need spiciness, and I need it now.

I often go to the store and look for what kind of hot salsas there are. It’s usually the Tostitos and On the Border brands with a couple of others mixed in, that usually go no further than medium, so it’s rare to find a salsa to quench my undying thirst for burning tastebuds.

Today, my mom and I were at Walmart, so I looked at the salsa, hoping to find something, but expecting the same old stuff. To my surprise, Walmart had stepped up their game and gotten quite a bit of a salsa variety in the time I’d had my back turned to them in favor of Publix.

I picked up a couple of jars that were labeled “hot”, turned them around in my hands like a rotisserie to make sure they weren’t chunky, and put them in the cart once they got my Seal of Approval.

I got home, took them out of the bag, and picked one: Pain Is Good. They had “medium” salsas too so I wasn’t expecting a whole lot considering a brand with “pain” in the name can market a “medium” salsa. It would be painful for my mom, but not for me.

So I opened the jar. I stuck my nose straight into the aroma that flew from the jar. Didn’t smell too spicy. My nose hairs didn’t burn off. Great. Another salsa failure. Another salsa that was self-described “hot” that would grace my tastebuds with only a mild kick. Garbage.

I pulled the first broken tortilla chip from the remains of the bottom of the bag and dunked it straight into the jar, making sure to get a massive wad piled on my sliver of a chip. That chip may have been broken, but it had dreams. And they were fulfilled in that beautiful moment. It broke ground on the salsa. It took its virginity. It gave my purchase meaning.

I raise the chip in victory and let it fall gracefully into my mouth. A true sight to see. Under the light, the pepper seeds glisten under their thin coat of tomato juice and spices. Crumbs break from the side of the chip like a rocket loses the rest of its body once in space. A single drop of salsa breaks free from the rest, falling to my cheek so tenderly. A glorious sight.

I let my chompers and taster do their work. This isn’t so bad, I think as I let the taste simmer on my tongue. I eat another chip, as beautiful as the first. And another. And yet another.

And then I stop. The fire set ablaze on my tongue is so unbelievable that my eyes try to help put it out by producing tears. My nose drips as well. Every fluid in my body is trying to assist me except for the one I need the most: my saliva.

In a weak attempt to get out of my chair to fetch water, I fall to the floor in defeat. While trying to pull myself along to the faucet, I open my mouth to the fresh kitchen air in hopes that it will cool my tongue, but to no avail. I’m almost there. My strength is gone. I collapse and surrender to the salsa. This fire is too hot. No amount of water or milk could save me now.

This day truly belongs to the salsa. You fought a good battle.

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