Now, I am a story teller. I have stories; I have tall tales, and small tales. The one thing that they all have in common is the amount of time it takes me to tell a story. For some reason, I cannot manage to get to the point within the first half an hour of even the shortest of tales.
For a while now, I have wanted to tell some of the stories I have, most of which come from my sordid past of being an amateur somebody. A lot of these stories are of a sexual nature, though I refuse to let them become the main content of this feature. For my first of many, I tell the story of “Old Man Dan and the Legend of Purple Head”.
Now, this was a few years ago, so some of the facts may be skewed, though I will try not to exaggerate too much.
We were on one of many tours, this one was a solo stint down the east coast of the United States. After a couple of weeks, and a couple of [Van/Trailer] breakdowns, we had made it to Jacksonville, Florida. We all loved the city, it treated us well. The kids were good, the shows were fun, and our promoter there (Jesse – iamaphonic.com) always put us up and showed the band a good time.
I cannot recall if this was the night before the show, or the night after, but I do remember that we were in Jax for a couple of days. We were hanging around Jesse’s apartment, spending time with some friends. A small get together. Our things all strewn out about the apartment in they typical fashion of most bands sleeping on peoples floors. Boxes of cereal from the van on the floor.
Living on a 3 dollar per diem those days was not uncommon. Usually it would mean buying a 2 dollar box of Honey Comb cereal, and a box of pasta (which would usually be eaten raw if there was nowhere to cook it). Just to give a little background on that.
So, back to the apartment. We were all hanging out, just enjoying some down time. Some people playing Guitar Hero (this was so long ago the series hadn’t even had a sequel yet). I am sure that I had picked off to show my skill at numerous points throughout the night. I remember heading into the kitchen just as Jesse was unveiling a container full of “industrial strength hot sauce”. Jesse explained that it was created with the purpose of adding pure heat to massize amounts of food (giant pots of chili). He stressed that its intent was only to be diluted inside of high amounts of food. Apparently anyone wishing to buy it had to sign a form saying that they would not be allowed to offer it as a condiment in a restaurant under any circumstances.
After giving us all of the necessary information to both scare and intrigue the living hell out of all of us present (Gates, John-Phillipe, and myself), he then moved to offering us a taste. We all agreed. Gates was first; we all laughed as the toothpick was dipped into the red liquid. Just the smallest amount of the tip was covered on the small wood stick. Gates pulls the toothpick up to his mouth, and slowly, and hesitantly places the tip onto the centre of his tongue. After a moment or two, Gates begins to get choked up. Coughing and choking while reaching to find something, anything to pour in his mouth. His eyes begin to water and face turns read as he sticks his mouth under the faucet. He cranks the flow to full and begins flooding his face with water.
We all laugh as he recovers. At this point I cannot recall whether or not John-Phillipe tried the sauce, though I’m sure that if he did, it was similar to Gates’ experience. I, however, do remember trying it myself. I remember moments after feeling the cool speck hit my tongue, my entire mouth coated with fire. I also remember yelping while downing bottles of water until my stomach wouldn’t allow me to pour any more inside of it. I can’t even describe how much punch was packed into that small drop of hot sauce.
As I finished my recovery, the kitchen door swings open. It is Dan, and he wants to hear what all of the commotion is about. Now, Dan is a pretty tough guy. He is mild mannered, and keeps a level head most of the time. I have seen him angry though, I am pretty sure that he has the capability to be a pretty scary guy. I think he liked to promote the “Silent but Strong” stereotype. He was given the rundown about the hot sauce, a streamlined explanation of it. He enthusiastically took on the challenge of the fiery sauce.
I cannot recall how his toothpick had become coated, whether it was one of us who put it on, or it was he who took that liberty. All I do know is that Dan had placed half a toothpicks worth of it into his mouth. To recap – The rest of us had about a drop, Dan had about 5-10 times more. We all sat in wonder, half concerned we would be taking a trip to the hospital, or collecting bits of his innards off the floor once his body rejected it (along with the rest of his organs).
Dan just shrugged, acting as if the hot sauce was nothing. Being tough guy Dan. We were all amazed; not only did he not require instant water, the guy was completely unfazed by taking much more then we had. A few more moments go by, and Dan’s smug look begins to change. While the look remains, his face begins to change colour. First red, growing from a light pink to a more true red, eventually turning into a deep purple. It was almost comparable to the scene in Willy Wonka where Violet Beauregarde eats the gum and turns into a blueberry. Okay, maybe not that bad.
The entire time this is happening, Dan is trying to maintain his cool. He doesn’t realize his shift in pigment, so he continues to act unfazed. We are hysterically laughing by the time he starts shaking. I cannot recall whether or not he went running for water. Though I am pretty sure that to prove he could handle it, he opted out of water and just went back to eating Honey Comb’s and watching people play Guitar Hero.
This is one of many events I wish I could film, as the hilarity from this is unfathomable. Dan’s face, actually, Dan’s entire (shaved) bald head was completely purple. Colour so bright it was comparable to a sheet of paper printed with low ink, faded, but still in full colour. It was intense.