Russell finished running a relay and joined his friend Becky in the cafeteria. He asked, “What’s for lunch?”

Sesame chicken. It’s OK, except the meat’s charred. Oh, and watch out for the chili peppers,” Becky said.

“Chilies don’t bother me!” said Russell.

“My stepmother says you should be careful with them,” replied Becky.

An argument ensued about eating chilies. “Chilies aren’t so bad. I bet I can take more bites of this chili than you,” Russell said.

Becky was wary of eating the pepper. Despite her reluctance, she didn’t want to say no to the bet. She wavered about whether to do it or not. She negotiated the details. “What will the winner get?” she asked.

“The loser has to carry the winner’s books for a year! I’ll even let you go first.”

Becky replied, “Fine, but to clarify, you’ll carry my books for the entire school year, right?”

Russell restated the agreement, “That’s right… I’ll carry your books all year if you win — which you won’t!”

His dogged persuasion convinced her. The chili looked benign, but Becky knew it could cause a lot of pain. She bit the bottom of the pepper. Surprisingly, she felt nothing.

“My turn,” said Russell. He bit the middle of the chili. Immediately, he seemed to be in distress. He gasped and his face alternated between brave and pained expressions. He experienced an overdose of spice. He was on the verge of tears and finally let out a horrible cry.

“Take this,” said Becky, handing him her drink.

“That was awful!” he said, continuing to sip from the glass.

That night, Becky researched chilies. The next day she said in an apologetic voice, “I read that the hot part of chilies is in the middle, where the seeds are. I’m sorry — I feel like I cheated by going first.”

Russell was relieved, not only did he learn something new about chilies, but he learned that Becky was a good friend.