This I Believe

Paul - Indian Head Park, Illinois
Entered on February 25, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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Of Peppers, Pain, and Precaution

This summer I took a radio class at Lyons Township High School. Our work was for the most part held on a mini-disk, a small recording device. Towards the end of the class, when I was ready to turn in my mini-disk with all of my work for the semester, someone took it. The person who took it threatened jokingly that I had to eat a pepper that had come with the Mexican food we were eating if I ever wanted to get it back. I probably did not have to eat the pepper, he would have given my mini-disk back regardless, but I figured that it would be a fun thing to do on the last day of summer school, and it didn’t look that hot, so I ate it.

B i g m i s t a k e. / After about thirty seconds tears were flooding down my face. I ran to the bathroom and made the painful error of trying to wash my mouth out with water; it only got worse. My mom was shocked a short time later when she pulled up to the school to find me running to the car, red faced and in tears. The only words I could manage to get out in response to her frantic pleading of “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” was a painful “Just go home!” between spits out the car window. After drinking milk and eating bread at home I was better, at least until the baseball game I had later that day. The game was fine until I had to play catcher in the fifth inning. The kid who had caught the first four innings had been especially sweaty that day, given that the temperature was in the 90s. When I had eaten the pepper, the juice had run down my chin, and despite the fact that I had washed my face vigorously, the juice must have seeped deep into my skin, because my chin now burned as I wore the damp catcher’s mask. I caught three innings with my face on fire.

I believe that while taking risks is not always bad, caution should be employed, lest you get burned. Risk taking is an often enjoyable and sometimes necessary part of life, but when in doubt it is best to defer to caution. It is possible that the guys I was eating lunch with that day already believed this small kernel of wisdom, they were just not kind enough to share it with me.