Last night my church had our annual chili dinner. It's one of our most popular events, and over the years I've come to learn a lot about people both from the chili they make and from the chili they eat. There's “the guy with the amazing venison chili” and “the woman who thinks her hot chili is mild” and “the group competing for hottest chili.” There's “the man who samples as many bowls as possible” and “the woman who only eats the healthiest chili” and “the guys who prove their machismo by chugging the hot stuff.”
We had one guy bring chili that had ghost pepper in it. I got to watch who at my table took a bite and merely broke into a sweat, and who at my table started screaming and running for the drinks station.
Then there's me. I don't make chili, and I don't really eat it much either. I'm a wimp when it comes to hot spices. I don't like the texture of beans. And I eat very little beef. So chili... isn't really my thing. Unfortunately, I happen to be married to somebody whose favorite food is chili.
But I go and I eat white chicken chili and I have a good time. For me the event is not about the food but about the people.
We all had name tags, and at my table the names got a bit goofy. (We weren't the only ones—I saw a large family of people who all had Disney character names.) My husband had spent the afternoon playing video games, so he chose to be Link, which meant I got to be Zelda. The very best, though, was the couple beside me. Hers was “Epic.” His was “Fail.”
The kids' pastor and his wife were at our table too. (They're the same ones who, a few months ago, came up with the Cat Hats idea.) In his words, “It's not often we [he and his wife] get to be the normal ones at the table.”
We laughed. We cried (but only because some of the chili was HOT). We hoarded chocolate cake and cornbread before they disappeared. And we all went home happy. It was a good night.