Jalapenos + Contacts = Burned

I’m going to tell you a scary story. Prepare yourself. And then take serious notes so you  never do this to yourself.

Once upon a time, I decided to be Susie B. Homemaker and have a garden. I grew tomatoes, green peppers, jalapenos. The perfect ingredients for home made pico de gallo.

On a warm Saturday afternoon in the summer, my crops were ripe for picking, and my stomach was hungry for chips and pico. I decided to make my friend, Liz’s, recipe for pico de gallo.

I carefully chopped the tomatoes. I gingerly sliced and diced the green peppers. I lovingly prepared the onion pieces. And then it was time for the jalapenos.

"Sliced Green Chilli" by Grant Cochrane/freedigitalphotos.net

“Sliced Green Chilli” by Grant Cochrane/freedigitalphotos.net

Jalapenos are a spicy food lover’s best friend. They add just that perfect amount of zing to your dish and make the pico de gallo just that much better.

So, I chopped them. I threw their stem pieces away and moved them to the bowl. With my hands.

Then, my eye itched. So, I scratched it.

My eye began to burn. The slow, steamy, seeping burn that only a jalapeno could induce. Without thinking, I began to rub at my eye. Then, the other began to water and burn. So I rubbed it.

Then, my hands began to burn. There was so much jalapeno juice on my palms.

Here I was, blind now and screaming. I tried to rinse my hands off in the water. The burn wouldn’t fade.

I had to get my contacts out — now. I screamed for my friend to help me.

Into the bathroom we went. He didn’t know how to get my contacts out, so it was left to me. With the jalapeno-juice-burned tips of my fingers, I ripped my contacts out, screaming all the while.

I needed to flush my eyes out – so I tried to. But water in my burned palms simply turned into diluted jalapeno water, and I was back in the same boat.

Begging my friend to help me, he cupped his hands, filled them with water, and offered them to my eyes.

You can’t fit your face into someone’s cupped hands.

So, he threw the water at me. Threw the water into my face and my half-opened eyes still seeping and burning and crying in pain.

Finally, my eyes calmed down. I had on my coke-bottle glasses, and I was red-rimmed. But, the burn had decreased to a dull ache.

It was then that I realized — my  hands were on fire. For another few hours, I tried everything. Milk. Butter. Lotion. Ice.

In time, I found that the only solution was to wait.

Lesson Learned: Never touch chopped jalapenos (or their juice) with your bare hands or eyeballs.

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