Dodging Aunt Millie’s Tupperware party…

My wife recently received a summons for jury duty, her third since we’ve lived in Las Cruces. (I’ve only served on one jury panel in my life, while living in Santa Fe more than 40 years ago.)

Despite some occasional grumbling about it, my Nebraska farm girl wife — armed with straightforward and honest Midwestern values — will do her civic duty and faithfully serve on the jury panel to the best of her ability. 

Of course, in this time of COVID, there are extra precautions being taken this time around, including routine temperature scans when she shows up for duty.

While thinking about this, it occurred to me that a high-level scientific research project conducted years ago by my daughter for her 7th grade middle school science fair project could be useful to those seeking to avoid attendance at events they’d rather skip.

My daughter’s project, which by the way won her a spot in the New Mexico Science and Engineering Fair at New Mexico Tech in Socorro, was entitled “Chile Heat.” The research involved whether someone eating very hot green chile would experience a sudden rise in human body temperature.

So armed with a batch of extra hot Bueno green chile, my daughter set off on her experiment. Because the scientific experiment involved human subjects, we were required to have the research supervised by a “doctor.” We kind of fudged on that, asking my friend Joel, who holds a doctorate in economics and was a professor at New Mexico State University, to sign off on the experiment. Well, he does go by “Dr.” and the rules didn’t specify “medical doctor.”

Ready for the scientific experiment…

The experiment went like this: I rounded up some colleagues at my work during their morning coffee and asked whether they would be willing to sample a spoonfull of extra hot green chile while recording their body temperature before and after eating the spicy New Mexico staple. My daughter would take and record their body temperature with an oral thermometer before eating the hot chile, then take it again after they had eaten the sample. And sure enough, after eating the hot chile, all of the subjects showed a significant rise in temperature. For one of the participants, the chile was so hot that she launched into a rather violent round of hiccups that lasted for several minutes.

So here’s the bottom line. If your aunt Millie has asked you to come to her house for a Tupperware party, tell her that you want to be extra safe and will check your temperature before attending in case you’ve contracted COVID or some other malady. Then slurp down a large spoonful of extra hot chile, wait a few minutes and take your temperature.

“Aunt Millie,” you say on the phone in your most sincere of voices. “Id love to come to your party but I’m running a fever and think it would be safer for everyone if I just stay home.”

Hopefully, you’ll get off the phone before the hiccups start. 

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