Death by Jalapeño

Death by Jalapeño

He didn’t like garlic. It was an issue. A big one. Huge, really. “I don’t think this is going to work,” I told him. He didn’t quite appreciate the comment. “You’re making it a bigger deal than it is,” he said. “Am I?”

It wasn’t just the garlic, it was his whole palette really. No steak, no beans, no yam. No tomatoes or onions or cilantro. No oysters or carrots or eggplant. He liked white rice, corndogs and croutons. At the beginning I thought to myself, “It’s okay. Relationships are all about compromise.”

He was the first man I’d ever loved. I’ll admit, I was the first one to say those three words. It was after four months of dating when I wrote it with my finger on his forearm. Marriage wasn’t something on the radar, but it wasn’t exactly an “I love you for now” either.

One Christmas, after we decorated the tree with his parents, we discussed what to eat. “Pizza?” his mother asked. “Sounds good,” I replied. “Do you like supreme pizza?” she asked. “Yeah, I love it.” She ran over and hugged me. “You don’t know how happy this makes me?! They only eat cheese pizza!” Her declaration resonated. In that moment it occurred to me that she’s what I could turn into: a woman whose best night of the year was that time she got a supreme pizza.

Go ahead, judge me. What can I say, I’m a foodie. It’s not his fault his body is so sensitive, but what I like is not my fault either. The fat girl inside me is very demanding. She wants to experience the sweetness of raw clams, the kick of good curried tofu, the tenderness of short-beef ribs simmered in a ginger and black bean sauce.

Plus, what would happen when we’d travel? I hear McDonald’s chicken nuggets taste the same in Europe and Asia as they do in America. But in the meantime we went to concerts and road trips. We kissed and held hands. We even exchanged baby names. “Gertrude,” he suggested.

Then one day we went out for Mexican food. He had the chicken quesadilla and I had the steak nachos supreme, extra jalapenos. We washed the food down with some tequila and went back to his place, where we took off our clothes and my mouth looked for the worm. Later, as I watched him from above, I noticed a look of bewilderment on his face. “Are you okay?”

He grabbed my waist and pushed me off, running to the bathroom shouting obscenities, junk in hand. Water ran from the faucet. “I have hives,” he hollered. I stood up. In the bathroom he tried to soothe his manhood with cold water. I was confused. “What happened?” It was red. And swollen. “I’m pretty sure it was the jalapenos,” he said. “You know what that means: no more jalapenos for you.” I opened my mouth when my inside voice failed me. “I don’t know about all that. We should probably talk.”