The Hot Sauce Incident

June 17, 2008
By Henry Updegrave, New Rochelle, NY

Life throws the absurd at you from time to time, and I have no better example than my father's household ban on food from The Roaring Rooster, a restaurant near my house. The Roaring Rooster is the best place for barbecue in my town, and I miss it badly (as I'm sure he does as well but won't admit). The reasons for the ban are completely devoid of reason as is the fact that the ban is still in place today.
It all started about a year ago. My father and I were trying to decide on a choice of food to order, and finally agreed that barbecued ribs and chicken from The Roaring Rooster would be perfect. As my dad ordered, I heard him say over and over again in a firm voice that one would use to talk to a child, that he wanted extra hot sauce packets. I'd like to pause here and point out that this request in the first place was absurd. My dad, you could say, is a pretty big hot sauce enthusiast. There was plenty of hot sauce in the fridge, not to mention that the two packets one gets with any standard order would have been perfectly sufficient, as I was not having any (I hate hot sauce). After he finished the order, we sat down to watch television as we awaited our delicious meal.
When the food arrived, we paid the man who delivered it and brought our feast into the kitchen. I then walked into the other room to turn off the television while my dad took out the food and put it on plates. Just as I was about to go into the kitchen, I heard a furious, animal like roar from the kitchen and the sound of a fist hitting a table. Thinking that perhaps my father was having a heart attack, I rushed into the kitchen to see what the one man commotion was about. I saw my dad, red in the face, staring down at a fantastic meal, but accompanied by only two hot sauce packets. Before I could even react, my dad was dialing the number of the Roaring Rooster. He wasn't even dialing the phone so much as he was mashing the buttons, as if he were trying to poke his finger right through it. I could tell a storm was brewing, but little did I know its effects would linger for years to come.
The conversation between my father and the Red Rooster's night manager quickly went from polite, to tense, to angry, and before I knew it had become a full fledged shouting match, although I didn't see how the other guy could've found a long enough pause in my father's tirade to say a word. I felt a deep sense of embarrassment, and began to realize the absurdity of the situation. Obviously, my dad should be a bit ticked off, but he was totally going off on the poor guy on the phone (I can only hope this man had prior experience in dealing with the mentally unstable). And, as I mentioned earlier, the two hot sauce packets, along with the stash my dad had built up in the fridge, was more than enough for the meal.
I heard my father demand that they send someone over with the hot sauce, and in perhaps the only reasonable words of the night, the manager said that while they were sorry for the inconvenience, they would not send a delivery boy just to bring hot sauce to one customer. Knowing that there was no chance of the Roaring Rooster adhering to his demands, my dad hung up the phone, and we ate the food. Thinking that the ordeal was over, I went to bed like any other night, and life continued normally.
Fast forward a few weeks, and my dad and I once again found ourselves trying to decide where to order our food from. Having pretty much forgotten about the Hot Sauce Incident, I suggested the Roaring Rooster, and my dad's response astonished me. "No way," he said. "I've banned them from this house. After that thing with the hot sauce, we'll never be ordering from the Roaring Rooster again." I couldn't believe my ears. This was the most absolutely ludicrous and idiotic thing I had ever heard. I suppose I can understand that he would be angry when it first happened and maybe for a few days after, but this was madness. He had just banned one of our favorite restaurants from the house over two packets of hot sauce (Did I mention we had ample hot sauce?). Furthermore, it is absurd that he still enforces the ban today, a year after the incident. Any time I or anyone else suggests that we order from the Roaring Rooster, he angrily reminds us of the injustice he suffered at its hands, how they don't understand that the customer is always right, and how they had lost his (and therefore my) business forever. This is without a doubt the most ridiculous thing that has ever happened to me, but one must learn to live with life's absurdities. So, no matter how absurd it is, I'll just have to somehow live without those Roaring Rooster ribs.

Similar Articles


This article has 1 comment.

on Sep. 2 2008 at 9:59 pm
I just have to say, I absolutley LOVED your story!! I laughed through the whole story. I too, have witnessed the "Updegrave Rage" It usually would happen when my father would order food and something would go wrong with the order. Maybe they would forget to give us ketchup,or pickles on the side, must run in the family, but beware Henry or shall I say take note, It only effects the males in the family!! Keep writing, I'll keep reading!

Melissa Ellis

Swoon Reads

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!