On Friday night, Riley and I ate ketchup.

This started out as a pursuit of a painful food challenge (I suggested spoonfuls of horseradish, but that idea was thankfully tossed aside) We landed, somehow, on ketchup. In our deluded minds, Riley and I thought that we would each be able to eat half a bottle of the stuff with such ease that we’d be able to race to the finish. So we bought a twenty-four ounce bottle of Hunt’s, poured about six ounces of strong-smelling red paste into each bowl, and took our first triumphant spoonful.

That was a bad idea.

Four spoonfuls later, I was dizzy and sick. My cheeks stung from the vinegar. I started to burp — not a pleasant experience — and I leaned over the side of the deck in case my stomach decided to reject the ketchup. Riley was in no better shape; each time he’d try to take a bite, he’d pause and set the spoon back down. We both forfeited the challenge after only a few minutes of choking down the familiar yet foreign substance — a thin line of ketchup that dresses a hot dog tastes far different than a full bite of the stuff. It burned our throats, pained our faces, and upset our stomachs. And we suffered from bitter after-burps for at least an hour afterward.

In hindsight, this was a stupid idea. But, as with everything, there’s a silver lining:

Riley and I have been neighbors for well over a decade, and we’ve done all kinds of moronic things together. We’ve raced to eat saltine crackers. We’ve put tabasco sauce (among other things) in milk. We’ve walked around Wal-Mart speaking in horribly improper Spanish. We’ve gone planking at midnight. We’ve raced on sets of old crutches. We’ve dared one another to eat unbelievably spicy food. And thankfully, I remember all of these things. We’ve never been so stupid as to, say, binge drink. Or smoke. Or do drugs.

If you’re going to do something stupid, don’t do something so stupid that it will destroy your brain cells. The teenage urge to do irresponsible things can be satisfied with a safe but dumb activity. And even the lamest of ideas can be legitimately fun. Even though the ketchup experience was painful, I’ll always remember it fondly. Nobody got hurt, nobody got (permanently) sick, and we in no way added to or subtracted from the population. It was fun and honestly kind of funny; Sara got a video of our first few bites, and it’s comical to watch us submit ourselves to each scoop.

This Friday night, don’t do drugs. Don’t drink yourself to death. Just get a bottle of ketchup with your partner-in-crime and laugh at your stupid, sour faces.



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