There is a local dining establishment a few minutes away from my home called The Buffalo Wing Factory. They are the “Home of the Flatliner,” which they must believe to be the hottest wings on earth. Having experienced more than a few extremely hot wings, and being a connoisseur of spicy foods, I decided today to check out these bits of so-called “TRUE INSANITY.” “Uh, 10 Flatliners to go please,” I said to the girl behind the counter. My request was met with a slight smirk, the only disturbance in her aura of disinterest and boredom. Must not be a very exciting place to work. She handed me a “release form” that I had to sign before being given the wings. I didn’t read much of it, but it had something to do with acknowledging that Flatliners were the HOTTEST WINGS EVER and that I would not sue the Buffalo Wing Factory if I blew a gasket as a result of consuming said wings. Yeah, whatever, typical self-obsessed restaurant melodrama. I signed the form, picked up my wings, and headed home. They were packaged neatly in a small styrofoam take-out container, along with a small paper bag containing a whole three celery sticks and a small plastic tub of bleu chesse. The wings themselves looked pretty mean — dark red, high concentration of pepper seeds, and overall very spicy-looking. “Hey, these can’t be *that* bad,” I said to myself, and sat down to experience the Flatliner.

…dude, these are some #@$@!!! HOT chicken wings.

It took me nearly 45 minutes to finish all ten wings. Have you ever eaten a fresh Cayenne or Habanero pepper? Imagine eating two of them (or maybe just one especially fiesty Habanero), but not before rubbing some of it over your lips, and you will have approximated the feeling I got after finishing one wing. The minute I sank my teeth into it, I knew that I was in over my head. The heat and pain were exquisite for that first wing, and the spice lasted for several minutes. I wonder if they actually use one whole pepper per wing.

Seeing that I had nine to go, I dug into the next wing. And the next. And the….nope, I couldn’t go any further. At this point my forehead had started to break out and I had polished off one bottle of beer and two tall glasses of water. I searched in vain for something milk or milk-like (I would’ve taken half & half at this point) to assuage my ravaged tongue. I had to take a break. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a few slices of bread and grabbed them. The celery sticks were devoured long ago in another misguided survival attempt.

I stared squarely at the remaining wings, my body trembling and my tongue ready to bail out of my mouth. I swear they stared back at me. Gritting my teeth, I went on. My tongue had either gone numb or I had become accustomed to the wings, so I was able to get maybe two or three more wings into my mouth before stopping again. The Brita was emptied of its remaining contents and I started to drink from the tap. More bread was consumed. I was sweating like I was 12 miles into a marathon, and my eyes were POURING tears down my face. I’ve never, ever cried from eating anything before. Taylor looked at me inquisitively, perhaps with a hint of concern on her face. I don’t blame her. Perhaps she thought I’d lost my mind. Kim would have either laughed at me or shook her head, perhaps both.

With only three wings to go, I could not turn back…but I had to do something. So I cheated, but only because there was no other way to continue — I dunked the last of the wings into a bowl of water before eating them. Even sanitized of their angry red sauce, the meat had been seasoned and I could still feel their punch.

I looked up after polishing off the last bit of chicken. 45 minutes had elapsed, and I hadn’t yet gone back to clean off the bones. I decided against doing so, as my mouth was already numb. It took perhaps half an hour for the feeling to return, and another half an hour before my tongue returned to normal.

Here I am, some five hours after eating those wings, and my stomach is still rather angry with me. I feel exhausted, as if I’d worked out for a good two hours, but all I’ve done today is sit around the house and eat those damn wings. Hey, at least I conquered the Flatliner. I feel triumphant now, but I fear what will happen when this stuff eventually decides to leave my body.

There’s spicy food, there’s “Thai hot” spicy food, there’s death, and then there are Flatliners. I’m glad I tried them, but I don’t think I’ll be ordering them again. And I’ll pay for the meal if anyone out there can finish ten of these little poultry fireballs without resorting to cheap tricks.

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