Peppers and hooch

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

You are correct. “Peppers and Hooch” does sound like a bad buddy cop show from the '80s. But in the world of Nebraskan long-term care, the lethal combination could be threatening the whole profession. 

Recently in the peaceful hamlet of Kearney, a well-meaning assisted living resident named Bob, whose name and gender I don't actually know, was allegedly attempting to lower the heat quotient of some chili peppers by cooking them in Everclear.

It's probably not part of your typical drug formulary, so perhaps you're not familiar with Everclear. But with potency just shy of snake venom, this distilled libation can both alter a mood or strip the rust off the railing surrounding your facility smoking patio. Its versatility is admirable, as it's not often one finds a product that's both a refreshing beverage and deadly herbicide.

Anyway, back to lovable Bob and his or her bright idea to cool his or her very hot peppers. “It just makes perfect sense,” he or she said to him or herself, an unverifiable fact I not only made up, but also cannot prove.  “Everyone knows gunpowder can be easily removed by putting bullets in the microwave, and this is no different. Not one bit.”

After cranking the range-top dial up to 11, Bob polished off most of the Everclear and settled in to watch some Matlock, according to no one I've talked to and nothing I've read. By the time firefighters arrived at the previously pastoral campus — this next part is true, allegedly — the smoke-filled building had been safely evacuated, and he or she had apparently thrown the smoldering VMCs (Vegetables of Mass Combustion) into the nearest toilet.

Until all the facts are in, we should each resist the urge to rush to scorn or judgment, as according to McKnight's, Bob's admittedly poorly executed strategy for pepper heat control is well known within culinary circles. Our real worry should be the inevitable regulatory response.

From now on, Everclear will almost certainly get a black box warning as a flammable antipsychotic, and facilities will be required to serve only genetically modified cooler-hot peppers — dispensed by certified medication aides with asbestos gloves from fire-retardant med carts.

It's a worrisome time as Nebraska providers struggle to get up to speed in this newly punitive environment. Good thing there's still a little Everclear left in that bottle.


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Things I Think

Things I Think is written by longtime industry columnist Gary Tetz, who resides in Portland, OR. Since his debut with at the end of a previous century, he has continued to amuse, inform and sometimes befuddle long-term care readers worldwide.