I read something in a book once about getting older (if you’re interested, the book was Aztec, by Gary Jennings). To paraphrase it, everyone eventually reaches the “age of never” where they never had trouble with getting around before, never had trouble finding things before, or never had trouble remembering before. That age seems to creep up on us all, always somehow surprising us with its inevitability. This year, for most of us, has become a different kind of “age of never,” as many of us have become very good at things we never thought we’d do before.
I have a huge list of my own just from this year. Among other things, I never thought I’d be a sports mom. Oh sure, the kids have been involved in kids’ club wrestling, summer league swimming, and TaeKwonDo, but something just made it real when Darling Son and his team took the field in their Wildcats Football jerseys, and when Darling Daughter started practicing with a US Swim team. I was always a band and scholar’s bowl person…who would have thought that so much of my current waking hours would be occupied with my athletically talented children’s sports practices?
And I never thought I’d get involved in sports myself. I’m still blown away that I’m less than a month away from testing for my Second Degree Black Belt in TKD. I never thought I’d actually learn how to swim (without pinching my nose and doggy paddling), let alone enjoy swimming laps. Somehow, my Darling Hubby and Darling Son have also gotten me started on weightlifting. I really never thought I’d start eating almost the same level of spice that Darling Hubby does.
Let me fill you in on some background information. Throughout our relationship, whenever we eat out, if at all possible, he orders his entrée extra spicy. When we were dating, at one Thai restaurant, we overheard the cook saying “Who order this? Who eat it this hot?” Hubs thought it was just right. At every Mexican restaurant we visit, he always asks if they have extra hot salsa. Nothing was ever quite hot enough. Recently, at Ming’s in Wichita, we discovered that you can order spicy entrees on a scale of one to ten, ten being “hottest.” Hubs ordered a 30. It was the first time I’d ever seen him meet his match. His face changed colors. He broke out in a sweat. He said his ears went shut. We had to go out for ice cream afterward.
This is the man who likes to make salsa at home. Occasionally, he makes it so spicy that it gets hard to breathe in the house. Last year, he planted a Habanero plant and a Carolina Reaper plant. As frost threatened, he dug them up and brought them inside in pots, where they flourished all winter. Apparently they were self-pollinating since the Reapers actually bloomed and bore in February. This spring, he took them back outside and planted them in the ground, and they took off. They’ve been heavily laden with peppers most of the summer, as have the Super Peppers he planted to keep them company. As he harvests, he pops them in a baggie in the freezer, to use at his convenience. At this rate, I think we’ll have enough for the next several years.
I knew it was salsa time last month, not by the tomatoes covering the counter, but by the telltale metallic tickle in my throat. There stood my Darling Hubby, a pot of pureed and seasoned tomatoes simmering happily on the stove next to him. He was dropping peppers into the electric chopper in front of him, a strange grin on his face. “Think you got enough peppers in there?” I said, my eyes beginning to water.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said with an evil giggle. Several more cups of chopped peppers went into the bubbling brew. He stirred it, then dipped in a chip, which he gingerly tasted. Was that smoke coming out of his ears? Nah, couldn’t have been. He put in still more peppers, giggling evilly, or was it nervously? “Wanna taste?” he said, with an expression that wouldn’t have been out of place on a mad scientist.
“Sure,” I said. Up until this summer, I was a strictly mild salsa kind of gal. I had been practicing with the extra hot at our favorite Mexican place though, so I figured I could handle it. Here’s where my Ric Flair impression came in handy. WHOOOOOOO. Not gonna lie, folks, this stuff turned out to be tomato-flavored napalm. You don’t want to eat it around an open flame. But it has a great flavor, as I discovered when the burn died down, somewhere around the third chipful. I’m thinking it will come in handy this winter, especially if we get the cold and snow they’re predicting. Just a few bites, and we can all break out into a sweat.
It’s been interesting doing all these things I never thought I’d do. I’m blessed and grateful for the opportunity to find out each day what’s going to be next. Maybe I’ll even get higher than 15 at Ming’s!