When I was growing up we moved around quite a bit. I changed schools a lot and experienced living in places ranging from the head of a hollow to the city. As a result I acquired an accent of my own; not ‘hillbilly’ and not ‘buckeye’. When I was in Ohio I was told I “talked like a hillbilly” but when I was in Kentucky I was told that I talked like a “buckeye”.
Once I was going to school in southeastern Kentucky, I think it was around the 6th grade. I was reading a book about edible plants and came across a plant called Jack in the Pulpit. The root of the plant is edible, however in its natural state it includes a chemical that mimics the hottest hot pepper you could find. Native Americans and old timers leached the chemical from the roots before using them for food.
What I found particularly interesting was a citation that country boys would trick city boys into taking a bite of a fresh root. I thought it would be really funny if a country boy were to trick a city boy into chomping down on one of them hot roots. Not too long after that I was hiking in the hills with a buddy. I was scanning around watching for the Jack in the Pulpit, then I saw some.
I dug up a root and rinsed it off in the stream and carried it with me for awhile as I was talking to my buddy about how the ‘Indians” ate them. Eventually I asked him if he had ever eaten one to which he said, “No.” I reached the root to him and told him to try it out. He bit about half of it off and started chewing. Within a couple seconds he was spitting it out and running back the way we had come toward the stream. All the way he was yelling “… you son of a bi….!”
Fortunately he calmed down and forgave me of my joke. Maybe I will tell you about some of the jokes that same guy had played on me some time. He told me that what he felt was hotter than anything you could imagine, but it wasn’t hot like a pepper, it was actually very painful. I did regret the joke after I did it, but not enough to take a bite myself as he tried to persuade me to do!