Recently, I traveled to Chicago for the first time; as a girl from a very rural town, the big city is a bit overwhelming. I crammed as much into the five days I was there as I possibly could; the Willis Tower, Navy Pier, the Magnificent Mile, The Chicago History Museum, Millennium Park- I tried to do it all. Of course, I tried the Chicago hotdog and the Chicago pizza- both are Chicago musts- but one part of this trip stood out more than anything else: The Burger.
After a long day walking around the loop and being a dedicated tourist, my travel buddy (who is also my best friend) and I were searching desperately for a good place to eat. We saw a gleaming sign that read “Rock Bottom.” I pointed it at, and with a smile in my voice, bellowed out, “Hey, that’s where I live!” Both laughing at my half-joke, we decided we might as well eat there. We walked in, were seated, and ordered drinks almost immediately. We both scanned the menu, trying to decide what we wanted. She couldn’t decide between steak and a burger and I couldn’t decide between anything. At the recommendation of the waiter, my comrade decided to go with a burger. Liking the way that sounded, I asked the waiter to order me his favorite burger. What did he choose? The Fireman’s Burger. This burger featured pepper jack cheese, avocado, red onions, pickled jalapeños, lettuce, red chili sauce, and chipotle mayo all on a ¾ lb. beef patty. It didn’t like anything I haven’t had before, so I figured it was worth a try. He said he liked a little spice, and so do I, but I still asked for the pickled jalapeños on the side.
I had already downed my alcohol laced blueberry lemonade and half my water by the time our food came. This burger was huge. I knew right away there was no way I was going to finish it all at once.
“I also put the red chili sauce here on the side for you. That can get kind of hot,” the waiter explained, pointing to a small cup of sauce that was the deep red color of a raspberry. It had the texture of a thick salsa verde, and seemed harmless enough. I spread a thin layer on the top bun of my burger, and before dumping the rest on, I decided to try a taste of the sauce my waiter thought I was too weak to handle. I plucked a perfectly crisp, golden fry from the pile on my plate, and plunged it deep into the sauce. I slowly lifted it to my mouth, curious as to what I was about to experience, and laid it on my tongue. It didn’t seem hot at all… at first.
A mere second after it hit my tongue, I felt it. The actual fires of Hell straight from the Devil himself. There is spicy and then there is the Devil’s asshole, and this sauce was NOT just simply “spicy.” Now at this point, most people would push this demon sauce to the side, and finish their meal, but I am far too stupid for that. Einstein once described insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, which is exactly what I was. Each time I would dip my fry in Hades’ diarrhea, my mouth would begin to burn worse than before. I would suck down a giant gulp of water, and do the whole thing over again. I would bite my burger, which had the thin layer of this sauce of death, and my tongue would feel like it had burst into flames. The waiter, seeing my face that was beat red and covered in a sheen of sweat from the heat of my mouth, placed two glasses of water in front of me.
By the time I was halfway through my meal, everything burned- my tongue, my throat, my chest, my stomach- the entire path the inferno they called sauce had traveled was on fire. My face was hot and red, my forehead was sweating, and I was gulping in air as though I were suffocating. It was then that I realized what I had just done. This demon burger’s journey did not end in my stomach, where it was causing my stomach fluid to boil. That was only the halfway point to its destination. I ate the rest of my fries slathered in ketchup, hoping to assuage the burning that was filling the entire upper half of my body.
I confronted the waiter as he delivered our checks. “A little spicy?” I squawked out. “That is not just a little spicy. That taste like it came directly from the Devil’s ass. Do you just have him in the back letting it go into a bucket, because that’s what it tastes like.” He chuckled a bit before answering with “Well, I’m from the South, so we like our spice.” From the South!? Didn’t he think that may have been a good idea to mention that before I ordered? His “little spice” is three times as spicy as mine. We left the restaurant; the remainder of my burger in a to go box.
We were waiting for the train when I felt it- the drop. That feeling after a big meal when everything in your entire digestive system seems to drop down like dead weight. I started to panic; we still had a 45-minute train ride between me and the bathroom in our hotel room. I breathed through the increasing pressure filling my bowels, refusing to give in to it. My companion tried to coach me through it, but I was terrified of what was going to happen when I got to that bathroom. “Does room service bring fire extinguishers?” I asked, my voice full of regret. “Because my ass is about to have a volcano level eruption.”
I help my breath half of the ride home, with a rancid smell leaking out of my bottom every few minutes. I could barely hold it any longer as the elevator traveled to the second floor. I was about to blow when my savior unlocked the door and I burst in and went straight to the bathroom, not even pausing to flick on the light or shut the door. The sound echoed throughout the room, as the kraken released in the form of a fart. Once I was convinced nothing solid was coming out, I walked, hunched over, to my bed to lay down in my agony and think of all the life choices I had made to get me here. I lay there for what seemed like hours, curled tightly into a ball, clutching my burning stomach, releasing toxic gas that echoed off the walls. Finally, the pain began to subside. I was able to get out of bed and walk without the burn shooting through my entire body. I sauntered over to the fridge, and there I found it- the rest of The Burger. This burger had caused me more pain than I thought food ever could. It made me feel like I was being burned from the inside out. This burger was the thing I thought was going to end my life in a smoky haze. I wrenched it from the fridge on the verge of tears, tore open the box filled with rage, flopped down on the bed, and ate the rest.