Although I’m the eldest child in my family, I get no respect and I’m actually considered the wimp.
First off, I’m the shortest of the four of us. It’s so unfair that age and height aren’t directly correlated. I’m not the only eldest child who happens to be shorter than her siblings; I think it’s a deliberate thing, probably meant to keep us from being too full of ourselves: imagine how much bossier and in charge I would be if I was taller than those brothers of mine who drive me nuts, and if I was also stronger than them. It would also really be handy if the elder of my younger brothers couldn’t lift me off the ground. And my sister, two years younger than I, shouldn’t be allowed to be both taller than me and in the habit of wearing heels in my presence, should she? But she is and she does.
But the thing that makes me the butt of family jokes (aside from one of my dance moves that my siblings like to imitate, and not in a flattering way, might I add, or the fact that I’m the sibling most likely to cry at family birthday celebrations) is the fact that I can tolerate the least amount of pepper out of the six of us in my family. I can eat pepper; don’t get me wrong, and I can probably handle more pepper than most if not all my friends. I’ve only once told my mom that something she prepared was too peppery; that I could barely eat it. But more often than I’d like to admit, I do comment that something is peppery, most recently three days ago. Whenever I comment on the topic, my brothers call me oyinbo and my parents just laugh at me. In fact, in response to my most recent comment on the pepper in my dad’s obe efo (vegetable stew), my sister and mother laughed openly, saying that since I moved out, the most spice I had probably used in my cooking was black pepper. Oh, the mockery! I tried to defend myself, saying I also use dried chilli peppers, but I was drowned out by the laughter.
A recent experience with Thai food has me wondering if I’ve gone “soft(er)” with respect to tolerance to pepper. A new takeout Thai place opened near my work and you can order your meal in three levels of spiciness. I tried “hot” at another location some time back and could not even taste the rice since my tongue was completely tortured, so I downgraded to “medium”. But lately with “medium”, after I finish the meal I have a runny nose. I’m actually considering ordering “mild” next time, but I’m not sure I can call myself a Nigerian if I go to that level. So what is happening with me? Perhaps tolerance of “heat” declines with age?
Or, maybe Thai food rivals my parents’ cooking with respect to pepper level? Or (and I don’t want to even consider it): I’m becoming wimpier by the minute.