Saturday, June 28, 2008

Worst Food Experiences

REGRETS DEPT, June 27 - Learn from my mistakes.


Virginia, 1993
I'd never tasted coffee until I was 24, and it took a few months of trial and error to learn the physics of caffeine. One night fairly soon into this lifestyle change, I drank six cups in one sitting. I remember the next half hour as one of the best periods of my life. All powerful and omniscient, the only hard decision I faced was if I should write the great American novel in one shot or fly down to the interstate and kickbox big rigs.

Then there was a scene cut and I was on the floor of my bedroom in my underwear, rocking and weeping because I'd broken my mind. I pulled myself together enough to ask a roommate for one of his valiums, on the theory that a depressant might save one or two of my heart valves from exploding. When I eventually projectile vomited, the little blue pill hit the back of the toilet like a bb pellet, and I crawled off to bed and slept for 19 hours.

Virginia, 1995
My plan to bake everyone Christmas cookies hit one small snag this particular year, being my ignorance that not all foods are left in the oven for 40 minutes at 450 degrees simply because that is how long potatoes are baked. The first round of cookies emerged a shiny strip of asphalt, which I broke into chunks and ate, angrily, over the course of the next two months. Several times I tried to convince myself that I could distinguish which bits of charcoal had once been chocolate. I have a feeling I'll be sharing a laugh with my oncologist about this one someday.

North Carolina, 1996
This regional delicacy single-handedly ended my love affair with the American south. Grits are a charming and quaint southern dish. Boiled peanuts are small and soft and brown and slimy. And tapered. I'm not a psychotic or a coprophiliac, so I didn't enjoy the one second this was in my mouth.

Maine, 1999
I must have been terribly upset to eat an entire bag of Campfire marshmallows in one session, standing over a trash can in an empty kitchen. When I came to, clutching an empty plastic wrapper, I felt lightheaded and strangely euphoric, and was reminded of a classmate from Vermont who once swallowed a mouthful of gas while siphoning a snowmobile and wandered off into the woods to die. This marshmallow experience is now the yardstick by which I measure other personal failures by.

Oklahoma, 2004
After my band spent a pleasant autumn day getting to know OK City, visiting the bombing memorial and playing a ho-hum punk show, we retired to the dumpy but welcoming house of our promoter and ordered an XXL party pizza. We watched all of "Eurotrip" - a surprisingly well crafted film - and by 2AM gave up hope of seeing any food.

Sometime close to 3, the doorbell rang. It was the pizza! And not just any pizza! A 52", thirty-piece jalapeno and feta monster pizza, with many, many slices for each man! This felt like an event, some important turning point in all our lives, and I took a photo to mark the occasion;

I ate five or six slices and passed out on the couch. Sometime before dawn, a strange noise roused me. I opened my eyes to find thousands of baby spiders pouring over the back of the couch, engulfing me. I was up and in the kitchen, screaming and stomping, before realizing it had been some sort of psychoactive pizza night terror. Later that night, our guitarist Andy found himself in this same kitchen with a terrible thirst. He placed his head under the sink faucet, but when he turned the spigot all that came out was human hair.

If our rhythm section experienced any hallucinations, they kept mum. Although Andy and I both remember a birdlike wail of terror coming from one of their sleeping bags in the middle of the night.

Nevada, 2006
I probably lucked out on this one; when most people go to Las Vegas and decide that the rules of human conduct have been suspended, they usually wind up with dumpster stains and strange sex diseases. Instead, I went to Old Town and decided that eating a one-dollar deep-fried twinkie was somehow within the parameters of acceptable behavior. Here's how deep-fried twinkies are advertised;

What they actually look like is a nerf product that has been dunked in the toilet and then tempura battered. What they taste like is this:

Later, wandering Freemont street in clinical shock, I noticed my dandruff had worsened tenfold.