Not to be crude, but I did mean it literally.
Lina had been boasting to us about her hottest chicken wings experience at Seletar Air Base’s Sunset Grill. “We ordered the Level 20 wings”, she said, “and the wings were so hot, the next day, my ass was on fire when I went to the bathroom!” Though she wasn’t keen to revisit the experience, she still wanted to go back with us to claim the certificate that the restaurant gives out for people crazy enough to attempt wings that spicy.
So after hauling ass up the walls at Climb Lab, the five of us headed over in our three cars. Thanks to Lina’s GPS, we made it to the air base quickly; no thanks to her GPS, we spent the next 10 minutes circling the various camps, trying to locate the restaurant.
We finally found it, before our stomachs started protesting. Excitedly, we plopped ourselves down at the alfresco seating area, and enthusiastically beckoned the waiter. “Give us a half dozen of your hottest wings!” We barked. The waiter was slightly nonplussed. “Have you tried our wings before?” He politely enquired. We breezily waved no, and brushed aside his dire warnings of previous daring souls who’d tried and failed, leaving with stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and even fainting. It’s just one measly wing apiece. How bad can it be, right?
Grinning as he acquiesced, the waiter took our orders, but not after he’d pulled the other waiters over to bestow similar warnings upon us.
Our other orders came quickly. A pitcher of beer, amazingly juicy breaded mushrooms, a huge plate of nachos, and a dozen Level 4 chicken wings. We eagerly tucked into the food, and then attacked the wings. One wing in, Palex was already sweating profusely. Pass the pitcher please, he said, and I handed him the pitcher of water, whereby he proceeded to down 4 glasses of water. Level 4 spiciness!
Bijuan looked increasingly nervous. Lina kept moaning, why am I doing this? I was already dying after Level 20 the last time! The waiters came back to check on us, one by one. Ready for the wings? They mocked. Bring it on!
At last, the plate came. Six chicken wings sitting innocuously on the plate. Fiery red sauce. But then, the Level 4 wings were similarly colored. I picked up a piece and bit thoughtfully into it. With round eyes, Lina and Bijuan looked on. “It’s ok lah, just a bit spicier, that’s all,” I said nonchalantly. But a minute later, I could feel it burning down my throat. My eyes started to water. I grabbed my glass, and took a huge gulp.
BIG MISTAKE. I started to choke, and cough, and teared even more. “This stuff is bloody hot!” I managed to spit out. Lina and Bijuan stared, eyes wide in fear. Palex grabbed a wing off the plate, and started to shove the meat into his mouth.
Bijuan screamed. Palex didn’t make a sound. He just chewed on, like a man bent on a mission. Within a half minute, he had just a pile of bones and a very red looking plate. And face. He motioned for the pitcher of water. A terrified Bijuan refilled his glass. And screamed some more. Palex downed it, quickly. And motioned for a second. And a third. And then a fourth. All the while not saying a word. After his fifth glass of water, he abruptly pushed back his chair, stood up, and stalked off to the wash basin by the entrance. We could hear him splashing water on his face.
I wanted to laugh at the spectacle of it all, but my throat was still closed. And I still had a half wing left uneaten.
Grimly, I started to tear the meat out, even as Josiah gamely picked up his wing and started to chew on it. Lina also picked up hers, gingerly, and started to tear the meat from the bones. Bijuan was still looking on, ashen-faced.
Every bite was sheer agony. My nose had started to run, so I used a piece of tissue to wipe it. Only, in doing so, some of the chili sauce got onto my skin as well. Ahhh! My mug of beer looked super inviting, but I couldn’t steel myself to take another sip.
Palex was now back at the table. Composed, he could now smile calmly at us. “Come on, it’s not so bad!” We ignored him, and continued to munch on the chicken, taking care not to let the meat touch our lips.
Finally, Josiah and I were done. He quietly, me taking huge gulps of air. We looked on at Lina, who was finishing her last bite, and at Bijuan, who was still seemingly frozen over her uneaten piece of chicken.
And then, Lina was done too. Like Palex, she immediately rushed for the water. Five glasses in one go. Her face was flushed red. Bright red. But in between, she found enough voice to urge Bijuan on. Start by cutting up the meat, she said, it will be easier once you can just put everything in your mouth.
Now four watery eyes were on Bijuan. She used her fingers to pick at the chicken. Suddenly, she wailed, “My fingers are numb! I can’t move them! Heeeeeelllllp!” I don’t know how on earth she managed it, but indeed her fingers looked oddly stiff, frozen in a state of homage towards the killer chicken.
It took her another few minutes before she could move her fingers again, and with video camera rolling, we videotaped her final, victorious, and vicious bite.
And now, we were done. Valiant eaters, whom, despite the waiters’ best attempts, paid no heed to their portends of doom but conquered the chickens.
Except, now the fire had moved from our throats to our stomachs. The red was gone from our faces, replaced by sheens of green. “I need to puke,” Lina said, and without further ceremony, ran from the table.
It was worth it though. For our efforts, we each received a certificate from the restaurant. And our admiring waiters revealed that we were in fact only the 9th table who had had the guts to take on their mighty challenge. 🙂
But yes, this morning, the shit was hot.