There Seems to be Something with Me and Hotdogs.
The Hotdog. The food of the non-gods. The king of the open fire pit alongside the s'more. The garbage can of filler meats that brings people together. A must for baseball games and a quick-fix Tuesday night dinner when no one wants to cook and the five year old is starving. The armpit of the culinary world that brings families together as it brings Grandpa to the emergency room with chest pains.
There seems to be something with me and hotdogs. They have a tendency to infiltrate my life with the pangs of indigestion coupled with the ability to form closer bonds. One particular ketchup-laden hotdog is the start of my novel, "The Power of Ketchup," where an entire town learns to accept each other because of a little girl and her unhealthy breakfast choice.
Summer is around the corner, Memorial Day weekend 2023 is upon us, and grills are heating up. I've already had two hotdog occasions in the past two weeks. The first was at a Minnesota Twins / Los Angeles Dodgers game. I've lived in LA for almost twelve years now, but I am a born and bred Minnesotan. Twins are my number one team. Dodgers are my second. So when they come together, I want to be there, badly. And I cannot attend a baseball game without eating a hotdog. Hotdogs, baseball, apple pie, watermelon - these things scream summer for me. Hot dogs are Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day basics for the grill. Stick that dog on the roasting stick over the open fire for me, add raw onions, ketchup and mustard, and I am a happy camper sitting next to the tent on that camping trip.
Other than that, I can't stand hotdogs. Any other time of the year, occasion, or event except a kids' birthday party younger than twelve years of age, and you can keep your dog. They literally cause me physical pain. The stomach cramps can be just awful. Who wants to put themselves through that for no good reason?
And, please, don't list out the ingredients for me. I don't want to know. I understand too well the hotdog is the catch-all of the meat production plant. That's more than enough knowledge for me. Any more information, and many happy childhood memories will be ruined with thoughts of pig snouts and intestines. Blech! Keep all that to yourself, please.
But the good things that come from the Oscar Mayer weiner are treasures. Which brings me to the second time I had a hotdog before the summer got started.
My daughter, my two daughters-in-law, my two grandchildren, and I went to the Strawberry Festival in Ventura, CA this past Sunday. We had so much fun hanging out together eating and perusing the booths and eating and listening to music and eating and admiring the strawberry attire of many of the attendees and eating and face painting and eating. Boy! Did we eat.
The strawberries were huge and juicy and sweet. Locally grown. Wherever you are in the United States, there is an excellent chance the strawberries you bought from your local grocery store came from this area. Strawberry drinks, strawberry shortcakes, jams, salsas, strawberry tacos, and more. And other foods too. Which brings me to the hotdog.
We couldn't just eat strawberry goodies. We needed some things to be savory too, and there were plenty of options. My grandkids wanted hotdogs. Why not? It's one of those summery events where hotdogs should be an option.
There was no place to sit. All the tables and chairs and hay bales were occupied. My family sat on the hard ground, and my daughter ran and found an empty chair for me and brought it over. I have a bad back. My grandchildren each had a delicious looking dog in hand. No ketchup or anything. They prefer them plain. That lack of taste doesn't come from my genes.
My three year old grandson had one bite. And then he left it sit in its foil wrap on his mother's jacket he was sitting on. He proceeded to play around our little group touching everything on the ground including the ground. His hands were so filthy. The rest of us ate and were getting ready to move on to another section of art booths, but he still had that hotdog sitting there.
I asked him, "Aren't you going to eat your hotdog?" He looked at me and shook his head. "Why not?" I asked. He shrugged his shoulders. He isn't much of a talker. "Is it too big to eat?" He nodded. "Would you like Grandma to break it in half and share it with you?" He does like to share. However, he shook his head no. Okay, I thought. He doesn't want to share today.
Except he did want to share. He just didn't want me to do the work of it. He walked over, took the hotdog out of the bun, broke it in half, and stretched out his arm as far as he could in my direction with a big smile on his face. He was so adorable!
I looked at his broad smile and smiled back. And then I looked at the half dog in his fist and thought about all the germs and dirt his hands touched as he played around our little group. And my stomach turned. My mind went into immediate action. What do I do? If I eat it, I risk getting sick. I have lupus. I have a messed up immune system that is just looking for an excuse to go into action and attack an organ in me. On the other hand, here is my grandson with his sweet brown eyes looking at me wanting to share with his grandma. I reached out, took my half, and said, "Thank you." His smile broadened.
Then, I leaned over to my daughter and asked her to open a ketchup packet for me. I said a silent prayer to God that the acidic nature of the tomatoes in the ketchup would kill any germs. Yes, I know it doesn't work that way. But, hey. No harm in the prayer.
I added ketchup with each bite. And with each bite I took, he took a bite of his half while smiling back at me. This shared hotdog was an opportunity for him and I to silently say to each other, "I see you." Another memory I am going to cherish every time I eat a hotdog.
It's pretty cool something as unhealthy as a hotdog can strengthen a relationship. It is the small things, the minor moments, that bring people together. To hell with the dirt. Make that moment count.
Do you have a hotdog moment with someone you love?
Thanks for reading!
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Humor In Chaos
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