Everyone has a few undesirable moments in life that they're never going to live down, regardless of how much time passes and how many great things they accomplish.
I'm sure Bill Clinton, Martha Stewart and Michael Vick would be nodding their head in agreement.
Fortunately mine all fall into much less severe categories, but every once in awhile, my parents, friends and husband like to remind me of things that make my nose instantly scrunch up in embarrassment. I know they love me and that it's all in good fun, but I wouldn't mind zapping them with a memory obliterator either.
The one that seems to come up most frequently is the time I nearly killed my husband with salmonella poisoning on our third date.
I had invited him over to dinner at my apartment, and because I really liked him, I went all out. I ironed my only tablecloth, Googled how to fold a linen napkin into an impressive shape, and prepared my best chicken recipe with chocolate molten souffle for dessert.
By the time Jerry arrived, my little place looked incredible and the food was ready to be put on the table. When we sat down to eat, everything was going great until he politely said, "Um, I think the chicken is a little undercooked."
Until then, he had been dutifully trying to stomach what was obviously inedible. But when he got to the center and the chicken was completely raw, he spoke up. I hadn't noticed because I was probably too preoccupied making sure all the other details were perfect.
Knowing what I know about him now, it's nothing short of astounding that he didn't spit the chicken out and run to the bathroom gagging. A few years earlier, he was hospitalized when he and his his college roommates ate undercooked chicken from a George Forman grill. Even though it had nothing to do with the product itself, Jerry still gets nauseous just passing them on display at a department store.
Embarrassed and apologetic, I quickly put the chicken back in the oven, and we made the most of the meal by eating the side dishes first. Eventually I pulled the chicken out again, presuming it would be cooked to perfection and reserved it.
Jerry took another bite and I saw his eyes widen. When I checked my piece, it was inexplicably as raw as when I had put it in the second time. Then I discovered that I hadn't remembered to turn the oven back on.
We got a good laugh out of the oversight, and the chicken was finally edible on the third try, but little did I know it would become the standard by which my cooking would be judged.
I have literally made us thousands of meals in the seven years since then, but the infamy of the undercooked chicken lives on. On the bright side, even my worst culinary disasters aren't as bad as "The Salmonella Dish," as we've dubbed it.
Granted, it might be easier to get over if Jerry wasn't a great cook himself, but I think I've more than proved my kitchen prowess.
I suppose if one incidence of undercooked chicken is the worst black mark I have on my record, I should willingly embrace it. Maybe by delicious meal No. 500,000 I'll have outgrown the teasing.
If not, I'll tell him to stick a fork in it. It's done.