Iwonder how many of you listen to a syndicated radio program called “Intelligence for Your Life.” Heaven knows we all could use some. Host John Tesh and his staff comb the Internet for studies, lists, and factoids to help us live smarter and happier. Everything from tips on how to act during a job interview to reasons why smiling is good for your nerves. And occasionally the advice you hear just might save your life.
A few nights ago, I heard Mr. Tesh describe a brand new personal protection system called the Defender 24/7. Back in the old days, people who had to be out late would carry a small container of pepper spray in case they found themselves under attack. But this is not your mother’s can of Mace. The Defender is a five-in-one safety kit. It not only sprays stinging fluid into the eyes of an assailant, but it also sounds an alarm, takes a photo of the bad guy, and sends the snapshot to the police, who can then can track your location via GPS.
It’s amazing that all this crime-fighting power is in a stick that fits in your pocket and only costs $179. What’s more, you can buy a second Defender for only $100 extra. The ad didn’t say whether the pair comes with a double holster so you can wear one on each hip — in case you’re ever mugged at high noon. Anyway, I’m sure millions of people will buy the Defender 24/7. But of course you know what will happen. Six months later, the company will come out with the Defender 25/8. This one not only stuns and photographs the felon, but it will also finger-print, handcuff and read him his rights.
Eventually joggers who use the gadget will be having conversations like this:
Jogger One: “Hey, check out my new Defender 7. It not only sprays the perp but also arrests him and even takes the case straight to trial!”
Jogger Two: “Aw, man! I just bought a Defender 6.”
This personal safety system contains the highest concentration of pepper spray available to the police, but there is still one step left for a future upgrade. The next level of Defender should squirt a lethal dose of Carolina Reaper, a specially bred strain of habanero that is officially the world’s hottest pepper. Reaching over 1.5 million Scoville Heat Units — that’s the chili pepper Richter scale — this spicy hybrid will put almost any villain down for the count.
A handful of brave folks have dared to take the Carolina Reaper challenge, but very few have survived. In 2014, a fellow named Jason McNabb managed to swallow three Reapers in under 11 seconds. He lived to tell the tale, though he now has a new esophagus made of PVC pipe. But I think I know someone tougher than Jason. Someone who could take the challenge and make it through without needing a replacement colon.
I’ve eaten with this man at Mexican restaurants for 10 years. He scoffs at the spicy salsa they bring out with our chips. Instead, he orders the “real stuff,” as he calls it, the hot sauce that requires customers to sign a release and list their next of kin. I watched one time as the waiter brought out a tiny, bubbling concoction. He then left our table, only to peer around the corner with the rest of the kitchen staff, no doubt placing bets on how long it would take for my friend to take one bite and keel over. It seemed the bowl was a mixture of raw jalapenos and battery acid.
But the old fire-eater was unfazed. Sure, his eyes bugged out, sweat came out of his hair and his body convulsed like a squirrel on a power line. Soon, though, the wheezing ended, the purple tint faded from his face, and all he said was, “That rang my bell.” Within seconds he was dipping another round of chips in the sauce and telling golf stories. No damage done.
It’s a good thing this 76-year-old is a retired preacher. If he had the slightest criminal bent, his special talent would render him unstoppable, impervious to any toxic spray. He could probably join the X-Men.
So go ahead and buy a Defender 24/7 for protection. Just be aware that not everyone can be stopped by liquid pepper. I, on the other hand, could be knocked over by a Flamin’ Hot Dorito. So you won’t find me turning to crime, either. But you can find me at Mi Pueb every Thursday, watching the old showman swallow fire.