Discovering Your Thirst Pain … with a Little Help from Friends |

Discovering Your Thirst Pain … with a Little Help from Friends

Every artist has a muse. Dave’s was dead poultry ” brought to life by a Weber grill, a 400-degree flame, a commercial-grade spatula and a little Springsteen in the background (sometimes the “Xanadu” soundtrack if the guys weren’t around).

Almost every weekend, rain or shine, Dave worked his mojo and tickled taste buds with secret sauces, specializing in “hot thighs.”

“Wings are too expensive,” he explained. “Thighs are juicier and meatier.”

One taste of his thighs was a revelation.

“These are to die for,” everyone agreed, licking fingers, asking for more. Better than KFC. Better than Buffalo Wild Wings. Even better than momma’s Sunday best.

But, truth be told, on rare occasions, he over-spiced. Sometimes, Dave’s thighs were actually TOO hot.

“Too hot?” Dave barked at the accusation. “Maybe for wimps,” he said, pointing to his “No Pain, No Gain” apron.

His friend Shawn left the grilling to Dave but did damage control behind the scenes on football Sundays ” extinguishing burning mouths with an impressive lineup of drinks.

Funny thing about Shawn: His TV broke down for a month and, instead of overdosing on ESPN, he hit the library. After reading F. Batmananghelidj, M.D.’s “You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty: Water for Health, for Healing, for Life,” the “New Shawn,” more than once, attempted to steer conversations away from sports, saying things like:

“Ewww …there goes my thirst pain. Did you know that your whole freaking brain can overheat from dehydration? Anyone else need a glass of water?”

After the laughter subsided, the abuse began.

“Niiiiice, Shawn. What’s next on the reading list? ‘The Benefits of Oxygen’?” Dave said, slapping the rest of the fellas on the back.

Shawn suffered the offense with clinched teeth and crimson ears.

The next Sunday, while Dave manned the grill and the masses licked their fingers and screamed at the TV, Shawn suppressed a wicked smile. Toting around a glass pitcher of genuine Nebraskan corn whiskey, he filled empty glasses.

“Allow me,” he said. Too focused on the game to sense danger, one by one, they all guzzled without looking … except Therese, Dave’s Irish-Italian wife, a vision in maroon (in her Redskins jersey), who politely refused.

Every swallow yielded scorched throats, raspy coughs and flushed faces, filling Shawn with rapturous delight … especially after Dave took a swig.

“A little thirst pain there, buddy? You know what they say: no pain, no gain … and feel the burn.”

“Yeah … whatever,” Dave snapped, brushing Shawn off with a wave of the hand.

“Got a grill to clean,” he said, slamming the door on his way out.

When he returned, everyone was sitting around the dining room table, yukking it up. Conversations ebbed and flowed in various directions until Therese requested the pitcher, which sat in the middle of the table, filled her glass, and chugged it in 5 seconds.

“Well! I guess I’m driving home!” Dave said, firing at his wife with his mouth agape. “How the … you can’t even drink a whole glass of wine.”

Her cheeks didn’t even color. She returned her husband’s gaze with sparkling eyes ” which, despite the transgression, immediately diffused his raw emotion. But the damage was already done: The outburst brought all conversation to a standstill.

“Back for more, huh Dave?” Shawn said, pouring himself a glass and guzzling it.

“Your turn, buddy. Bottoms up!” he added, offering the pitcher.

Dave’s refusal elicited the mob’s wrath.

“C’mon, Dave, you wimp. Be a man!” his friends said, waiting a full 5 minutes before revealing that the pitcher contained water, not whiskey, and his wife wasn’t a lush after all.

From that day forward, it was game on: Dave sabotaged Shawn’s hot thighs with cruel and unusual injections of cayenne pepper, and Shawn conjured up all manner of liquid fire. The breach of trust was permanent; the war, epic. Around Shawn, Dave trusted his drinks to no one but himself, not even his wife ” who maintained neutrality, though, personally, she always managed to get 8 glasses of water a day …one way or another.

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