To show our support for the local fire company, the three of us went to the annual chili cook-off at Nectar’s (the house that Phish built) this past Saturday. For five bucks we got to sample some twenty-two wildly varied pots of beans and meat. Some were real winners—the sirloin beef slow-cooked with dark chocolate was a hit for me. Loy, being Loy, tended toward the more sweet-tasting of the contenders—but raisins and baked beans mixed in with some cumin? Please. Victor liked the venison chili, but I was less taken by the taste of the chili than by the fact that the chef served it up using a leg bone from the deer he shot himself. I especially loved the two bearded guys (looking like they had spent the night smoking both pot and stew meat) who made their expertly-spiced chili with turkey, duck,, and beef, then threw a slice of sweet juicy pineapple on top. It was while I was loitering at this particular table, eating my second (okay: my third) sample, that I recognized the man standing next to me. “Hi, Pete,” I said with a snappy familiarity, immediately apologizing a nanosecond later. “Oh, god, I’m so sorry. I mean, hello Governor Shumlin.”
The highest elected political official in our small state smiled and shook his head. “No; that’s alright!” he said. “It’s my name. Feel free to use it.” I swallowed the bite of food I’d taken, threw the plastic cup in the trash and walked off, feeling the burn from both the cayenne and the embarrassment, slowly fade away.