It was supposed to be a delicacy.

But maybe we’re just a tad too delicate.

Connie and I had traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, for a weekend connecting with old friends.

And when I say old friends, I mean old friends.

Jim Klopfenstein and I have been buddies since we were little more than toddlers.

Jim and Mike Smith had been buddies since kindergarten.

And the three of us had run around together when we were in high school more than 50 years ago.

Whether we were the Three Musketeers or the Three Stooges, I’ll leave you to decide. But we were great friends, and despite some interruptions we had pretty much stayed in touch. I was Klop’s best man at his wedding, and I’d been an usher when Smitty was best man for mutual friend Ken Ritter back in the 1970s.

In other words, we are old friends, these days with the emphasis on the word “old.”

The weekend itself was essentially unstructured.

Connie and I had been down in Charlotte, North Carolina, for a visit with my sister Linda and her family, then let our GPS system guide us up to Smitty’s place in south suburban Nashville on a Friday afternoon.

But there was no real agenda other than to talk.

And talk we did, about neighborhoods and parents and teachers and stunts that landed us in the police station as kids, about children and grandchildren and work and politics, about travel and aging and music and bands we listened to back in the day.

As I said, we talked.

We told stories on one another, including some I’d never heard before.

And finally, somewhere around Saturday afternoon, we started to get hungry.

Smitty’s wife Mary had made a delicious and hearty breakfast, and she had plans for dinner as well. But the middle of the day was unaccounted for and unstructured.

That’s when Klop pulled out his phone and started telling us about a hot, popular restaurant he’d read about in Nashville.

Its specialty is something called hot chicken, he explained. And it’s something of a Nashville institution. There’s the original central location, he explained, and there’s a south location not that far from Smitty’s house.

And so, a plan developed, such as it was.

Three of us — Smitty at the wheel, Klop riding shotgun and me trying to find legroom in the back seat — set out. Connie and Smitty’s wife Mary and their niece stayed behind. We were the hunter-gatherers, and this was our quest.

That quest took us through several miles of Nashville sprawl, past McMansions and strip malls and Walmarts, until — eventually — the location popped up on Klop’s phone and we knew we were there.

Everyone else in greater metropolitan Nashville was there as well.

The Nashville hot chicken place was in a strip mall with limited parking and not much space. But that didn’t seem to matter.

It was hopping.

In a space roughly the size of half an all-purpose room at a Jay County elementary school, about 120 to 150 people were bouncing around.

Some were eating the famous hot Nashville chicken. Some were seated and waiting for their orders. And some were in line.

We got in line.

And we were immediately baffled by the menu.

We knew we were supposed to get chicken, but beyond that we were clueless.

How spicy is it? We wondered.

What’s the difference between mild and XXXX? Should we have consulted a physician before ordering?

Eventually we worked our way to the front of the line and put in an order for six quarter chickens (breast and wing) and a couple orders of fries. One was plain (Smitty has problems with spicy foods), three were mild and two were medium.

As to what “mild” and “medium” meant, we had absolutely no idea.

We found out about an hour and a half later when we got back to the house.

The plain was — in Smitty’s opinion — comparable to Richard’s Restaurant in Portland. He should know; he washed dishes there during summers in college.

The mild was — in the opinion of those who had it — far from mild. It was, in fact, pretty darned hot.

And the medium? Klop and I had that and had sweat on our brows.

Cold beer helped, but it was the spiciest chicken I’ve ever eaten in my life. Lips burned, throat burned, stomach burned. Everything burned.

But even as I made my way through it, a thought occurred to me: This is going to be one of those stories we tell one another the next time we get together.

And at least we didn’t end up in the police station.