Misadventures in Funcoland: Hot Sauce Trippin’

September 27, 2010

Store: Ann Arbor

Notable Gaming Release: I dunno

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted one of these, but this story jumped into my mind grapes the other day so I figured I would jot it down. This one isn’t really related to any game in particular, but more about the ecosystem that exists in a store like Funcoland.

I had been working at the Ann Arbor store for a couple years at this point. Well, off and on, it would be my second year at this store while working back at other Funcoland’s over the summer. Anywho, the store next to our store was this cool little wine and gift shop called The Blue Herron.

The two gay guys that owned and ran it were awesome. I wanna say their names were Jeff and Dave, but I can’t really be sure, I suck with names. I do remember that what seemed to be their only actual employee was named Blake. The Herron was actually our usual lunch spot, they had a deli counter setup in the back and while waiting for my sandwich to be made (#11, club sandwich with no ham or tomatoes. Funny I remember this but not the guys’ names,) I’d make small talk with the owners and wander the aisles looking at the kitschy stuff for sale. It was things like fancy chocolates and snacks, like Toblerone bars or other fantastically named candies with fruity flavors added to them like oranges or blueberries.

One day while strolling amongst the wine and cheese and candies I’d likely never experience, I bumped into a rack that had a small collection of hot sauces upon it. Now I like me some spicy foods. Really spicy, but above all, it still has to taste good. Browsing the few bottles I saw a bottle that was simply a legend to me… Dave’s Insanity Sauce.

I had either seen something on tv or read an article somewhere that had mentioned this stuff. Apparently before it was actually sold at retail, the only way to get this stuff was at hot sauce festival’s or cook off’s, or whatever you call it when a bunch of people get together to see who has made the most gut busting hot sauce imaginable. I was lead to believe that to purchase it, you had to sign a waver absolving Dave and company from any property damage and bodily harm that was accrued from using Dave’s Insanity Sauce… of course I bought a bottle!

I headed back to the stock room and sat down with my sandwich and pulled out the bottle. I don’t recall the exact quote on the bottle, but it went something like this, “Use a couple drops to spice up your chili’s, salsa’s, and nacho’s. Also good for removing drive way grease stains and stripping varnished floors.” I put a drop on the paper my sandwich was wrapped in, soaked it up with the corner of my sandwich, and took a bite. It took about 20 seconds to hit, and it hit hard! After a couple minutes the burn subsided and I was able to eat my lunch mostly normally.

While eating, TheToolBox came back and was chatting me up about the hot sauce, talking about one’s he’s tried, etc. He took a whiff of it with the cap off and described this burning feeling that slowly moved back through his nose and continued down his throat… like I said, strong stuff. At was then that CoolManager arrived to work the late shift and we began chatting him up about said hot sauce. I tell him the story about how I had first heard about it, about sampling a drop, and about TheToolBox taking a smell, and his reaction was, “Bitch please, you’re talking to a guy that puts Tabasco in his beer.” He took the bottle, dumped about a dime sized glob in his palm, and licked it off.

He paused for about 5 seconds, and then tried to brag about how it was nothing. “See? What’d I tell ya? You guys are both ahhhhhhhhhhHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCCCCGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH” (That’s the best I can type out the sound he transitioned to, kinda like a throaty exhale while trying to hock up a loogie.) In that same instant, he went ghost white and developed an immediate flop sweat. You could see beads of sweat running down his forehead. TheToolBox and I just looked at each other and simultaneously said, “Toldya!”

CoolManager looks like he just had his ears boxed, he started to sway a little bit, and then put his hand on the filing cabinet to steady himself. He then pushed passed TheToolBox and into the bathroom, the faucet turned on it and all we could hear was splashing and slurping. After about 20 seconds he came out, water cascading off his goatee and shouted, “No good! Making it worse! Milk! I need milk!” He again pushed past TheToolBox and ran out the front door.

About 20 minutes later, he came stumbling back into the store, his green Funcoland polo stained in the arm pits and around the neck from sweat and who knows what else. He had run next door to The Blue Herron where I had purchased the hot sauce and downed a 1/2 gallon of milk, ate half a loaf of white bread, drank two “Super Fuck Espresso’s” (his own name for the espresso he would make when the owners would let him behind the counter, if I recall he broke the machine once by overpacking the grounds into it.), and then another half gallon of milk.

For the remaining few hours I was there, CoolManager was not the man I knew. He was a very laid back kinda guy, he sorta looked like Sex Machine from “From Dusk til Dawn”, and he would just generally be a smooth talking salesman. These few hours, he spent mostly sitting in the back moaning and talking about seeing multicolored spots. As my shift came to it’s end, I went in back and pulled off my Funcoland polo and told CoolManager to have a good night. He said something to the effect of, “Take it easy, and for fuck’s sake, get that god damn bottle of fuck sauce out of this store and don’t ever bring it back.”

I’ve always kinda wondered what happened to CoolManager. When I quit Funcoland, it was a hot headed decision but we kept in touch despite that for about a year after I left. I stopped in once since I worked across the street and I heard he had been “let go.” He actually came into the restaurant one day by chance and mentioned he was living up North with his son and that his parting ways with Funcoland was “engineered” because he didn’t fit the profile of a Funcoland manager. I never knew the man to be a liar, and it made sense that he didn’t look the part, but you couldn’t argue with his sales figures. Maybe someday I’ll run into him again when I’m back in town for the holidays.


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