Friday, November 14, 2008

A Series Of Unfortunate Events

Lemony Snicket ain’t got shit on me.

It all began earlier this afternoon, innocently enough, with a craving for Sabra hummus. Sabra hummus—in my opinion—is far and away the best on the market. If you haven’t tried it, you’ll have to take my word for it. If you have, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The trouble with Sabra is that it’s scantly available, even in Queens, where I live, and where it’s allegedly produced. Further, the best variety, Jalapeño, is only available in one supermarket—on 34th Ave. in Astoria, if you’re in the neighborhood.

Living only 7 blocks away, you’d think I wouldn’t have a problem taking the short 5-minute walk to purchase it. You’d be wrong. Instead, I routinely buy plain Sabra hummus around the corner, along with jalapeños, and make my own. Even though it’s more work. And more expensive.

I suppose, given my sloth, I deserve what happened next. Shortly after making the hummus, I noticed a slight, shall we say “twang” in my nose. Within a few minutes this twang became what I can only describe as, Satan and his minions setting fire to my nostrils.

Before too long, the pain was unbearable. I quickly googled my condition: “jalapeño in nose”, and hit “I’m feeling lucky”, even though I wasn’t. Not surprisingly, I arrived at the web’s premiere destination for horrible advice, bad puns, and wise-ass 14-year-olds: Yahoo! Answers. It’s usually the first result on Google when a question is posed that would never affect a respected, moderately-functioning member of society.

Here’s the question, word for word:
“OMG, HELP, I am on fire. Jalepeno juice? I cleaned a bunch of jalepenos, yes, I wore gloves. But some how it still got on my nose. My god, it burns like hell. Does anyone know how to stop the burning? OUCH I look like a drunk with a RED nose.” -Cheryl

Pretty spot on. I felt “Cheryl’s” pain, and sensed the amalgam of utter dread and anguish in her hurried words. The answers to the question were varied. Most were helpful. You can see for yourself, here. I began running down the list—completely at the whim of the Yahoo! Answers community—willing to try anything. This is never a good place to find yourself.

I ignored the guy who said to “put tomatoes or catsup” up there. First off, anyone who spells ketchup like that can’t be trusted. I also skipped over milk, for the time being, opting for vinegar. Maybe using balsamic threw it off, but it sure as hell didn’t work. I tried lemon juice next, soaking a Q-tip with lemon juice and swabbing the inside of my nostrils like a doctor testing for strep. No dice. Nose still on fire, I read the next piece of advice:

“I hear that sticking bread up your nose will stop the burning, but it may interfer with breathing...whatever
AND please do not pour milk down your nose! This is a case where the cure is worse than the disease! :-)”

“May interfer with breathing”? I figured doing the opposite of what this guy said was probably my best bet. So I started sucking milk with a straw, strait through my right nostril. If there’s such a thing as gargling milk with one’s nose, I think I achieved it today. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the desired effect. The nose-fire persisted.

Running out of options, I tried the last advice: soak a paper towel with water and sugar. “Fuck it,” I thought, as I jabbed a wad of saccharine tissue into my nostril. I hate to leave you hanging, but that’s pretty much where I stand as I write this. I figured I’d jot this whole mess down before I forgot the agony. The pain seems to be subsiding, as the sugar’s mostly dry, and seems to be forming a strange, inflexible shell around my nose and mouth. I’ll let you know how it goes. I'm not terribly hopeful.


Jenni said...

Screw milk. What about heavy cream? Or ice cream?

I'm thoroughly entertained by this post. I got nothin' for you, having never handled the stuff, but I think going on Yahoo Answers is only good if you're looking to find a good screen shot for a Grammar group. And Vinegar? Wouldn't that make it worse? You must look funny with paper towel up your nose.

Feel better!

kk said...

Evan, you're my favorite fake sibling ever.

I hope your nose-crust has healed. By the way - I think you're supposed to use regular, not balsamic vinegar - although if you'd asked me I would have reccommended milk, even without consulting Yahoo Answers.

And Sabra is totally the best hummus ever ever ever. I didn't even know they made a Jalapeno variety.

boomer said...

If it happens again, try beer (I'm being serious).

ReL said...

next time try cod liver oil mixed with contreau with just a touch of fresh basil. saturate a small towel in the mix and heat up end over a stove hot. insert in head.

Evan said...

So get this... I woke up the NEXT day, and my index finger was on fire. I mean fire. I couldn't sleep. So I tried the sugar-towel-finger-wrap.

This is so not manly.

I also got this email, from a reader who will remain nameless. I post it hear because it's kind of funny, and it's also the longest email I think I've ever read: in reading your latest blog...I almost died laughing. Not because you were in pain, but because at about the exact same time that you were making your hummus, I was making salsa and had the ingenious idea to use not only jalapenos but habanera peppers. Now, on one hand, I'm a very good cook, on the other, I'm also a very stupid cook. I've never made salsa before so I was experimenting. By experimenting I mean, using ingredients I've never used before. So unlike you, who was smart enough to use gloves...I was not. [EDITOR'S NOTE: I love how she thought I was "smart enough to use gloves". Of course I didn't use gloves!! I don't own gloves, for that, or any other purpose. And if I did, there's no way it would have occured to me to use them, rather than scaping the seeds out of the pepper with my bare hands.] And my oh so loving fiancé didn't think quickly enough to caution me before it was too late.

So my evening went very similar to yours only...I'm pretty sure I'd rather let some ravaged animal slowly bite off everyone of my fingers. After cutting up the habanera pepper (sans gloves), my fingers started to burn. (Burn is an understatement but I don't quite have the accurate terminology to explain the pain) So I started washing my hands. As you may have experienced, water DOES NOT help the situation. I called my uncle who is a chef and he said to soak my fingers in dish soap. Since the acid of the peppers had been absorbed into the oils on my skin it needed a degreaser to wash it away. Well stupid me, while on the phone...decided to scratch my eye. YUP...habanera pepper in my eye. Needless to say, my eye swelled up and I couldn't feel the pain in my fingers anymore because the pain in my eye was unlike anything I had experienced.

Did you know that the chemical in the habanera pepper that makes it burn like that is the same exact chemical they use in pepper spray? Well I had my first experience with that.

I tried lemon juice, I tried soap, I tried vinegar thinking that since it's a base that it would neutralize the acid from the pepper, I tried milk, I tried EVERYTHING. Nothing helped. After awhile the burn would go away and then phase in and out.

That was fine...until I had to go to the bathroom. Yeah can figure that one out.

Long story short, it's Monday morning and everything burns, still. I'm not a happy camper and I will NEVER AGAIN touch a freaking pepper.

I feel your pain. I hope that made you feel better.

Monica Hamburg said...

So awesome. You're right - checking Yahoo answers for anything means you are at an optimum point of desperation. I like the ones on this tread that suggest something that they clearly have never tried themselves and say "try this - it's worth a shot". No dude, snorting vinegar is not worth a shot. Not on my watch.

Evan said...

The thing is, the 13 year old who suggested snorting vinegar was armed with a reasonable, dare I say "scientific", explanation: the acidic vinegar would neutralize the basic, oily, jalapeno hell-juice.

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