I was in San Francisco on business last week. For lunch one day after a morning full of meetings, my mom (who also happens to be my boss) suggested that we go to a little hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant that she and my coworkers frequent when they're in town. I love Chinese food, so we went.

We all (we being myself, my mom/boss, and two coworkers) sat down at a table and the owner/waiter/cook of the restaurant came over to take our orders. He recognized my companions -- they'd been in town several months ago. Shortly after jotting down our orders, he brought us some Wonton soup.

It was the most delicious soup I had ever tasted. After a few mouthfuls, I attributed the taste to MSG. This didn't bother me any -- I like the taste of MSG, and I've never experienced any of the bad side-effects that some people complain about.

Fifteen minutes after eating the soup, while we were still waiting for our food, I began to feel a slight tingling in the middle of my back. My spine felt like it was becoming fatigued, as if I'd been exerting my back muscles for too long. At first I attributed it to the chairs -- they had very flimsy backs that offered no support, so my back was a little strained.

After a minute or so, the fatigued tingling feeling had spread all up and down my spine, and I was beginning to feel slightly light-headed. I mentioned this to my companions, and tried to describe what I was feeling. None of them were feeling any of the same symptoms, so I figured it wasn't the soup. As the tingling spread up my neck, I figured it had something to do with having had no breakfast and too much sugar and caffeine that morning.

I went out and sat in the car while everyone else ate.

Afterwards, they took me back to the hotel and I skipped the afternoon meeting. After resting for a while, I realized I still hadn't eaten anything but soup all day, so I dug into the leftovers from the restaurant. About fifteen minutes after I started eating, I felt the tingling in my spine again. I immediately stopped eating and went and lay down on the bed.

As I lay there, the tingling again worked its way up and down my spine, then through my neck, and this time even into my jaw. It felt like all my muscles were screaming with fatigue, as if I'd just done 5,000 situps. In 45 minutes, the feeling went away.

At first, I attributed the weirdness to the MSG in the food. But now that I think about it, I'm not so sure. I've never had any reaction to MSG before this, and I eat things containing MSG on a regular basis, with no ill effects. What caused this reaction? Nobody else experienced this, and we all ate the same food. Odd. Must have been spine-vaporizing Chinese death sauce.

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