OK, so a bunch of work people and I were out tonight with one of our L.A. clients at Rodney’s Oyster House. We ordered a platter of varied oysters for the table and it came with a bunch of hot sauces. Now, I should say first off that I’ve eaten oysters before, and have been trained in the proper technique for enjoying a malpeque. But this evening, something went tragically amiss.

I chose a big juicy-looking one and asked for the hottest sauce on the tray (“Back From Hell”). Everyone was watching because someone else had tried the same sauce earlier with eye-watering results. I was feeling confident. I made sure the oyster was detached from the shell, and heaped a spoonful of sauce on my oyster. When I applied suction to the edge of the shell, I committed a critical error. I didn’t tilt it back far enough, and ended up inhaling just the juice and the hot sauce. It flew down my windpipe just as the oyster meat came loose and began to follow. The coughing reflex happened just then, violently blasting the slimy oyster across the table towards my horrified colleague. If I sprayed her with oyster juice, she was too gracious to admit it afterwards.

As I hacked my lungs out, gasping for air, little chunks of fire peppers found their way into my sinuses somehow, making my nose run and tears stream down my bright-red face. Not only was this some seriously hot sauce, but it had found its way into parts of my head and throat where jalapenos should simply not go. The waitress came by to ask if I was OK. Everyone laughed, but it seemed a bit uneasy.

I think I’m going to take a break from oysters for a while now…