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Waiter, There’s A Finger In My Chili

In my refrigerator, there's a carton of chili con carne from Paradise Foods, a very well heeled market near my home in Larkspur. I notice I haven't touched it, except to check the expiration date to make sure it's still good. I realize now that I am avoiding it. Why would a grown woman be afraid of a carton of $5.99 chili?

Because there could be something in it. And I don't mean too much cayenne.

(Associated Press) "...the latest twist in a bizarre case about how a 11/2-inch fingertip ended up in a bowl of Wendy's chili..."

It's a dark and cataclysmic time for chili. Fuck. I really like fast-food chili, too. Although I prefer Burger King's chili to Wendy's. Now even more, I prefer it.

Sadly, the inherent psychic damage is far more widespread. This event has cast aspersions not just on fast-food chili, but all chili. One bad finger can spoil the whole batch. The truth is, recent events reveal I may be getting more than I bargained for on the 99-cent menu. Like, it could be 99 cents for a reason. This is something I've vaguely suspected all along: What good thing comes from 99 cents? I am sure Shakespeare could have penned an amusing exchange between two villagers about this very thing.

Luckily, police and investigators are coming to the Wendy's Debacle rescue with the speed and agility of their kind. Instead of sending in the health inspector, they are holding a news conference to talk things over.

Authorities would not provide details until a news conference Friday in San Jose, Calif. -- the city where Ayala claimed she bit down on the finger in a mouthful of her steamy stew.

It is my experience that words rarely mitigate the trauma of forced cannibalization, but then I am only a woman and a writer. What do I know? I am naturally intrigued, however, by details provided by the press, with their natural élan and impeccable turn of phrase. It is all building to a tempest, and the media is rushing to fill in the gaps for the ignorant.

Ayala's claim that she found the fingertip, complete with a well-manicured nail, on March 22 initially drew sympathy. But when police and health officials failed to find any missing digits among the workers involved in the restaurant's supply chain, suspicion fell on Ayala.

Suspicion fell on this poor woman like a grand piano in a cartoon, from a great height and all of a sudden. Yes, the woman who found a finger in her chili has not only not been reimbursed, she has been arrested. This makes sense; especially if you are a multimillion-dollar corporation whose logo is a pigtailed white girl in a gay striped apron. Now, had Wendy's logo been an amputated thumb, all of this would be a non-issue. Design does make a difference, a huge difference.

Earlier Thursday, Wendy's International, Inc., announced it had ended its internal investigation, saying it could find no credible link between the finger and the restaurant chain.

They only checked credible links, and it seems to me that Incredible Links would be the first place to look. But what do I know? I haven't been to law school or any center for the culinary arts. I am a graduate of English literature, and it prepared me for little except blind commentary.

Still. This only proves the rule that discretion is the better part of valor. If Ayala did find a finger in her chili (and no one can prove otherwise, despite nefarious, lunging attempts by Wendy's) she should have kept it to herself, obviously. A rabbit's foot, after all, is considered lucky. With the right attitude and a small keychain, this woman could have turned this whole thing around. But, no. She told. And so she must be punished.

LAS VEGAS (April 22) -- "The woman who claimed she found a finger in her bowl of Wendy's chili last month has been arrested, the latest twist in a bizarre case about how the 11/2-inch finger tip ended up in a bowl of fast food."

Oh, dear. This is not desirable. So, if you find, say, a penis in your milkshake? Just take it out and quietly dispose of it. Tell no one. This is the moral of the story. Because if you tell, they are only going to go around checking employees for missing penises and if they find no castrated male employees in the building, they are going to haul your ass to jail.

Simply move along. Just drive right on through and keep going as if nothing unusual has happened. Otherwise, you are going to have suspicion fall on you, and it is not light or airy. Suspicion is heavy and sometimes leads to iron cots, bulky chain anklets, and such. Beware.

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