The most terrifying 9 seconds of my life happen immediately after flushing an airplane toilet.
There are 5 seconds of ominous mechanical silence and inactivity, just long enough to make me wonder “did I push the button hard enough?” This is followed by 4 seconds of sudden deafening noise and suction, the kind which leaves me convinced every single time that I have obviously opened a hole in the plane, and every passenger regardless of seat assignment will be exhaled violently from the aircraft, through the gateway of the toilet seat, starting with me.
The second most terrifying 9 seconds of my life are kicked off when a well-intentioned soul asks me (and it’s not often) “hey, you wanna come over and watch the game?”
And I am sucked through the toilet seat of life, spit out at 10,000 feet. What should I say? What game? NO. This is seen as a declaration of war to those who would not miss “the game,” who have been waiting patiently for “the game” all week, and who have a clear allegiance to one side/team/city in this “game.” It is an allegiance polished lovingly over the course of years, studded with live viewings of this team in action, and upheld even in the bad years, the low years, the losing years.
I simply cannot what game? this noble jerseyed person I see before me.
BUT over the years I have come to find out that there is secondary purpose to these functions and gatherings and viewings. A hidden valley if you will, of opportunity. Because running coolly just below these jovial hangings-out is an undercurrent, a salted, crunchy, messy, long-cooked, crock-potted, and many-coursed riptide of food.
Eventually I got wise to the idea that I could attend a function such as this and spend the entire duration in the kitchen, where I have found many other amigos willing to spend an 75 minutes with me co-chairing The Committee To Open This Bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, or serving dutifully on the chili advisory board.
Where these sporty assemblies used to be a tinderbox of anxiety for me (I can give you no statistics, I will ask how long these things usually take, I will un-coolly ask what’s up with that guy when everyone knows what’s up with that guy), NOW they are carnivals of delicious snacky finger-foods, unapologetically sodium dusted and sauced.
A multi-layered dip frosted with sour cream! Chips of every possible flavor, many which actually sound appealing! Maybe Tacos! But also Chili! And definitely cookies! And probably that thing I do not buy, but simply cannot resist when purchased in bulk by others! I clearly mean Corn Nuts!
And for me, someone who once harbored a minute long unsustainable high school dream to be included on the bowling team exclusively for the access to bowling alley fries, it is a warm and frothy bubble bath of a thought to know that watching a game of some kind will most likely include chicken wings. This is my survival instinct at its best. Where there are people on couches watching a sporting event, there are almost always delicious chicken wings for me to eat. It’s a tasty little business model I like to call “Trickle-Down Chickenomics.”
Get in there. Lick some sticky chicken.
This is a round of tart sweet green tomatillo, fried in its jumpsuit of cornmeal. So, crunchy on the outside, juicy and with a bit of season-appropriate chew on the inside. It's doused with smooth cool crema, chili sauce, and given a sprinkle of Spanish peanuts for crunch. If you’ve never had a fried green tomatillo, I promise to try to learn the home cities of 5 teams in any sport if you go out and get yourself one. And get a really good one. Specifically, get one from PJ at the Game On! Gourmet truck. It's a perfect bite.
These were sticky laquered Sweet and Spicy Szechuan wings. And if they are present for Monday Night Football, Sunday Night Baseball, or Anynight UFC Pay-Per view I will be too. I will cheer, cry, and scream right along with you and be so damn happy to be there. Enjoying the benefits of Trickle-Down Chickenomics.