Back in my wrestling days, I toured all over Western Canada — our circuit ranged from as far west (and south) as Vancouver, as far east as Winnipeg, and as far north as Fort McMurray. We put on a lot of miles, probably close to 100,000 every year. And, of course, when you’re on the road that much, you eat in a lot of restaurants. Some good, some not so good.

One of my favorites was the Deja Vu Cafe in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. We worked in Moose Jaw once a month so I didn’t get to eat there as often as I would have liked, but it was definitely something I looked forward to every month on the drive to Moose Jaw. I do miss going there now that I’m not on the road anymore. (Interesting side note: Moose Jaw was also where I challenged Adam Pearce for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship — but that’s another story.)

The Deja Vu Cafe specialized in chicken wings and, at the time, had something like 50 different sauces you could get with your wings. Everything from plain ol’ BBQ or Ranch to Red, Hot, and Blue (Franks Hot Sauce and Blue Cheese), and Zzouch (Creamy Garlic with Caribbean Jerk). There was something for everyone.

They also sponsored our show in Moose Jaw. They’d get mentioned prominently during the show, they put up a banner on the side of the ring and that sort of thing. The other thing they would do was close one hour early on the night of the show and have all of us in for dinner and drinks before we hit the road for home. Very often, it was nearly 11:00 PM when we left Moose Jaw. With a seven-hour drive to get home, having a quiet place to eat before we left was a godsend.

One particular night, as we came into the restaurant, the owner came running out with a small bottle in his hand, very enthusiastic. “Look what I got!” He thrust the little bottle out toward us.

It was Ghost Pepper sauce. I assumed it was something he added to the menu to go with the wings. Incidentally, I looked it up. Ghost pepper is 400 times hotter than tabasco sauce and 200 times hotter than jalapeños. He was very excited about having it.

After we got seated, when he brought us our menus, he also brought out a little plate. On the plate was one of those tiny paper cups like one of those a restaurant would put a dollop of butter in — round, about one inch across. He’d half filled the little paper cup with a sample of the Ghost Pepper sauce.

“It’s very hot,” he cautioned. “Have a taste but just put a tiny bit on the tip of your finger. Anything more than that and you’ll die.”

Okay then.

I did try it. Dipped the very end of my pinky in and tasted. So did everyone else at the table. And, he was right. Even just that little bit scorched my tongue and the back of my throat! Ever break into a sweat eating something spicy? I could feel that, too, as I reached for a glass of milk to cool my mouth and throat off. (Because the heat in peppers is carried in the pepper’s oil, water just spreads it around.)

And then, in walked Dean.

Dean was the most popular “good guy” on the tour with us. He always stopped to sign autographs and all that, if there were fans around. So, he had been outside signing and posing for selfies while the manager had explained about the Ghost Pepper sauce.

Dean and I really got along well, and we worked really well together in the ring. But, Dean was young, full of piss and vinegar, lots of bravado, probably a bit of bullshit, too. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy but, sometimes all that bravado got him in trouble. I’m sure you know someone like that.

Anyway, we explained to Dean about the sample of Ghost Pepper sauce in the little paper cup that was still half-full despite all our little pinky dips. Dean rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Oh, come on. How hot can it really be?” he asked. Then he snatched up the paper cup and shot the contents back just like you would an ounce of whiskey.

Oh man.

The manager sprinted for the kitchen.

You could tell immediately, Dean knew how wrong he was. His face just went totally slack, y’know?

His eyes teared up. His face turned dark red. Sweat literally dripped from his forehead.

I wasn’t even sure if he’d swallowed yet.

If it were a cartoon, he would have reacted just like the guy in the cartoon at the beginning of this post.

Dean dropped heavily into his chair, still holding the now-empty little paper cup, as the manager sprinted back from the kitchen with a pitcher of milk. Dean snatched up the pitcher and drank right from the top of it, milk spilled out around his mouth.

It took probably fifteen minutes, and Dean finishing the entire pitcher of milk, until he was finally able to speak.

“See? It wasn’t so bad.”

<eye roll>

If you’re ever in Moose Jaw, stop in at the Deja Vu Cafe. It’s totally worth it. Great food! Just don’t shoot the Ghost Pepper sauce.