As promised, I'm trying to insert some less-strange categories in here. And what is less strange than a life-size hot dog squeezing ketchup onto itself? This would be a good place, too,o to insert a video of the Will Ferrell as Harry Caray on Weekend Update skit where he asks Colin if he were a hot dog and got hungry would he eat himself, and then congratulates Colin on his wise choice.
When I was 21 I moved out of my parents' house and into a crummy apartment with two roommates in a terrible part of town -- so terrible that a year later I would learn that Jeffrey Dahmer had lived 6 blocks away. And I went through a series of jobs in that first summer, among them a one-day stint as a canvasser for a political action committee. That was depressing. But there was nothing depressing about my job as a hot dog vendor. We would go to the store front in the morning, and load up our carts with dogs and buns and relish and onions, and load them onto a truck, and we'd all sit in the hot, dark truck, talking quietly sometimes, as it drove around the city and stopped occasionally to have us hurriedly unload a cart and then continue on. My corner was downtown, near a bunch of banks and an insurance company. Boring, but easy work. And I worked the night of the Fourth of July fireworks, too, and sold over 700 hot dogs in 2 hours. That's a lot of hot dogs, all made by me.
The point is, I guess, that hot dogs are associated with summer in my mind, and with an idyllic summer of easy work and no parents for the first time in my life. And beyond that, they taste GOOD. And you can do anything with them. You can fry them and coat them with chili and cheese like I saw Rachael Ray do last week while I was on the stationary bike. You can bread them and put them on a stick and people will pay $3 for them at the State Fair. You can wrap them in 59-cent ready-bake croissants to make cheap pigs-in-a-blanket. You can eat them from a hot dog stand on 5th Avenue with a pretzel and a Diet Coke everyday on your honeymoon, like Sweetie and I did. But mostly you can (as I did that summer) put them on a bun, put a lot of onions and relish and mustard on them, and eat them as you sit in the sun and watch people go by to their jobs that do not let them sit on an upside-down pickle bucket and bask in the sun. Here's to the Hot Dog, the Best Summer Food.