Jeff Phillips: Do Nuts, Ya Sweet Chili Floaters

One time Fats Hugo was pissed at all of his friends because they seemed to always find ways to laugh at him. They teased him not only for his weight, but his lack of comfort with the 55 pound weight gain he had within a calendar year. It was, of course, awkward for him; there was this whole other mass for him to get used to maneuvering around with, and it didn’t help to see the constant mimicry of the way he carried himself.

He made these donuts with what he called a “suggestive” nut. He crushed and pressed them into the chocolate glaze. He offered them as a dessert.

“Donuts.” He said.

“Do. Nuts.” He growled at anyone that tried to refuse.

This “suggestive” nut was a rare one from the Amazon rain forest, with a more scientific name of anacardium chukli. Most everyone, any normal person, is actually allergic to it. No one would know it, and Fats didn’t bother to mention it, until its effects were noticeable.

It causes an involuntary spasm that starts in your facial muscles and runs down your throat, and it looks like you’re laughing. Only you’re not laughing; you’re terrified at the sudden gyrating and lack of control. But after awhile, and it lasts six hours, it exhausts you, and you find yourself in a rhythm. The whole thing seems so ridiculous – you can’t wrap your mind around it – and your mind adheres to what the body has been suggesting. It succumbs to laughing uncontrollably, for real. It was way more hilarious, in the end, than anything I’ve ever experienced.

We were so overcome with the giggles that we took the bait when Fats rolled out the dunk tank.

“Who’s down for a wet roast?” He bellowed, more of a command than a question.

He volunteered me to get on up there, on a suspended seat, and in the red chili pepper lights dangling around it, I didn’t question that it might be anything other than water sloshing below me. He picked up a heavy looking black ball, what appeared to be from a croquet set, and tossed it between his left and his right hand. He sneered.

“You think you got it all figured out? You think you know how to sit pretty, dontchu?”

He wound up his pitch, released, there was a thwack against the target. I splashed down, and because I was still laughing, my eyes flinched open, my jaw was flapping. The water was tainted with something spicy. Seconds later my tongue was inflamed and my eyes burned. I crawled up out of the tank as my vision clouded with tears. I could feel them stream down my cheeks, and my nose was bogged down with a new flow of snot from my sinuses. I was still laughing from the “suggestive” in my system, but the shock to my mucus membranes of such an intense dose of capsaicin caused a little quiver, a groan, and to all around me, it appeared I was crying.

“Aw man, I made a grown man straight up break down, thought you had some thick skin,” Fats shrugged. “Better keep yourselves in check or I’ll find any way I can to make you do nuts, ya sweet chili floaters.”

It was strange to be pulled aside by people that were cackling as they tried to comfort you. It felt like they were not to be trusted, that they were probably in on this nasty prank too. When your face feels like it’s being ripped apart by death sentence sobs, you forget that they’re in the same boat of powerlessness.

“You wanna be fed by the fat chef,” Fats finally declared, “you best not be rude, or I’ll invite your body’s bloodiest revolt. Just a pinch more and you’ll feel all the feels and it won’t stop, even after you scream for it to just shut down already.”

I had to call off work the next morning because I was still a mess. It’s too bad you can’t find underground chefs on Yelp, but tell your friends; you’re rolling the dice at those dinner parties. It’s some of the best food made by some loose canons, and I know I better be writing one hell of a convincing apology letter if I’m ever to go back.

The story above is an inspired spin-off of the novella “Probiotic Hot Sauce” by the same author, published in Zizobotchi Papers: volume 1, winter, 2015. To read more about the culinary warehouse world of Fats Hugo and Chubb Champo, please visit the link below to order a paperback or Kindle copy of the publication:

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