"Great sauce, Larry!" I said, licking my lips. "What's your secret?"
Larry's cheery demeanor suddenly became surly and accusatory.
"You wanna know my secret, do you? Well that would require me to betray certain confidences I've spent half a lifetime building and that..." he said, prodding my chest with a piping-hot, sauce-covered wooden spoon, "I cannot and therefore will not do."
"I see," I said humbly, wiping the savory, burnt sienna concoction-in-question from my blouse.
"With all due respect, I don't think you understand," Larry continued, his voice now gradually increasing decibel-wise. "You wanna know where my loyalties lie? Well, I'll tell you:
"First and foremost, I'm a human inhabitant of the planet Earth. Second, I'm an American. Third, I'm a citizen of the great state of New Mexico. Fourthly, I'm the father of six children--four average, two exceptional. Fifth, I'm a widower. Sixth, I'm a god-fearing parishioner of the Atheist Reform Church. Seventh, I'm a card-carrying member of the International Projectionists Guild. Eighth, I serve as social chair for a local adults curling club. Ninth, I'm a collector of rare hobbyist periodicals and catalogs. Tenth, I play the vibes at the annual Founders Day mixer. And eleventh, but certainly not least, I'm an aspiring sauce magnate."
After that, Larry just nodded a quick, curt nod and hobbled out of the grounded hot air balloon basket. I sympathized with his perspective, and accepted that I, his son's oncologist, had no more right than anyone else to breach the tasty barriers of his gastronomic charisma. I couldn't help but smile as I licked from my forearm a molassescent globule of the very condiment responsible for my ultimately unpleasant encounter with Larry Van Hanssen.