Actually, it IS Rocket Science

The wrath of Banh

So here’s something fun that happened last night:

For a little bit up a set up, here’s how my Thursday evenings usually go:

I usually spend the morning cramming as much catchup work/paper writing as possible so that I can have enough time to run out the door at 4 to get to class, which looks like this:

Just kidding.  Little colon humor.  You’re just lucky it’s THIS kind of colon humor and not the alternative.

I arrive to sit through the first of two evening classes, the first of which will take me up to the 7:30 mark if I’m lucky and the teacher hasn’t decided to overlook our looks of irritation and constant glances at the TWENTY-THREE INCH IN DIAMETER clock on the wall.  The one that faces the teacher directly.  And apart from having a game-show buzzer could not be more clear that class has ended,  yet remains the only thing they don’t see when it’s time to end class, miraculously.  The only reason this bothers us is because once class has ended, another timer begins immediately.  That timer is for the thirty minutes we have to burrow out of our classroom and ransack, pillage, anything that equates with scrounging for some semblance of “dinner” and continue to shovel it down our gullets before the beginning of the next class like an updated batch of sightless cave dwellers encountering their first taste of human flesh or whatever the hell it is sightless cave dwellers eat beside bugs.  Just think of a thousand or so Gollum’s all looking for their Precious and we’ll be all squared up.

Last night happened to be one of those nights, and so at 7:38, we were released from our cages and allowed to forage and devour for the remaining time.  We found ourselves at a sandwich place because what the fuck else are you going to have time to have made and also eat in 22 minutes, and after reading only the first letter of every sandwich on the menu, I ordered a Banh mi.  You guys.  I love Banh mi’s.  For anyone who needs a refresher course in the delectibilities of the glory of such a sandwich with a ridiculous name, it’s a Vietnamese sandwich made with special deli cured meats, pickled vegetables, cilantro and dressing on a french baguette.  Oh man.  It sounds so boring when I say it like that.  But if I told you that Beef Wellington was just a cut of beef wrapped in some sort of pastry shit, that would sound boring as well, wouldn’t it?  Banh mi’s are amazing.  And since I’ve moved here, I have been completely unable to find any.  So I strolled up to the cashier and ordered the SHIT out of that sandwich.  The guy behind the counter, “Kan” as it read on his name badge replied:

“Would you like that hot or cold?”

… Okay.  Screwit.  I saved time on perusing the menu, I’ve got enough time for them to slap it in a toaster for 5 goddam minutes.

“Hot, please.”

And then I waited.

What do you think it was like for Einstein when he finally discovered the theory of relativity?  How do you think Anne Sullivan felt when Helen finally understood “Water?”  That’s right.


Although the presentation was a little anticlimactic- they slapped a brown paper bag down and shouted my order number- I was fully aware of what resided within those paper walls and awaited my reward.  I was a bounty hunter and this here was my television series rewarded to me justifying and glorifying my ridiculous bleached out dreds and strung out body that I refused to wear a decent shirt beneath my absurd leather vest while giving myself a three-letter name for a generic domestic pet.

I grabbed it and ran back into the classroom to enjoy this beautiful amalgam of flavor before class started.  To be fair, our teachers always allow us to eat in class, but you guys.  Have you ever been in a quiet room and heard someone slapping their mouths around a crusty piece of bread?  It’s at once both enticing and disgusting.

I launched into that thing.  I really did, you guys.  I let that sonofabitch have it.  And it was everything I dreamed it would be.

But then something happened.

I felt the familiar feeling of a capsaicin bulb burst in my mouth.  For anyone that’s ever chewed on a raw hot pepper, you will quickly relate to what I’m about to describe.  There’s sort of this blissful moment that comes as soon as you bite into a pepper; you at once realize its freshness (peppers seem to have the. freshest. flavor ever) but you know what will soon follow.  So you embrace that moment of solace and steel yourself for what you know will come next.  Because in less than 1 second, your tongue then becomes a minefield wherein every landmine has gone off at the same time.   There is literally a No Man’s Land of wasted and damaged-beyond-repair earth between your molars.  You can no longer taste flavor and your gums begin to swell.  So you chew faster so that you can get that motherfucker outta there.  Black Hawk Down.  Seriously.  I ripped the sandwich back and inspected it and saw it.

One.  Unadulterated. Habanero. Pepper.  Seeds and veins and everythangs.

You guys, I like spicy food.  I love it.  But being unprepared for a particular flavor has to be one of the worst experiences ever.  Don’t believe me?  Have your friends replace your ice water with lukewarm Sprite next time.  It’s a cold, emotionless world.

Here’s the real kicker about hot peppers.  They actually BIND to your tastebuds.  Like fucking barnacles.  It’s a food designed to treat your tongue like it’s strapped to a knife fight.  So you drink water to alleviate the pain.  Water, as we all know, opens pores, and your tongue, if you haven’t already guessed, is VERY. POROUS.  And that shit slinks in there like it owns the goddam place.  And you might as well start digging your own grave because you ARE going to die.

At this point, I didn’t know what to do with myself.  My nose had begun to run before I even had a chance to swallow the agent of death.  So I quickly pulled up my napkin and blew my nose.

Baaad idea.

I’m running out of analogies and various ways to describe a full out assault on your mucus membranes without getting filthy and disgusting.  Let’s just say I exacerbated my problems tenfold.  I now had a mouth that was incapable of chewing any longer and a nose that was having it’s tissues dragged slowly through hot coals.  I was feeling the heat rise into my cheeks and eventually my forehead.  And it was almost time to start class.

I pushed myself toward the bathroom.  The bathroom in the next building.  Because with the money that is offered from all of the students attending graduate school, we all know there’s never nearly enough money to afford a bathroom in BOTH buildings.  You guys know that scene in Poltergeist when the mom is running toward her child’s room and the hallway gets longer and longer and she begins to run slower and slower?

As I slumped over the sink sloshing handful after handful of water in my mouth, I was finally able to come to my senses a bit more.  It was then that I realized my lethal mistake.  I had refused to look at the liner notes of the description of my sandwich.  Surely they had put in there that there would be the option of leaving the pepper out.  Thus making it:

Hot.  Or cold.

And so as I squirmed for the next several moments and quietly berated myself for not investigating further my earlier choices throughout the evening class, I knew that it would make a decent blog entry the next day.  And although I know it was fully my error in the process, I would be remiss if I didn’t leave this without the one thing I screamed to myself silently before my woeful realization: