Red Hots: A Love Story

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Sonic in Florida; Proper Dogs

I once told my love that I adored her even more than red hots. She smiled and said, “I know.” For she knew that my love for her was more vast and deep than for my favorite food of forever…

There’s something about hot dogs that I just can’t resist. You could tell me they were as harmful as cigarettes, or that if one bit me I’d die instantly. You could list all the gnarly and nasty ingredients. You could say they had car parts in them. You could warn me that they would lay waste to my waistline and rip apart my innards with a million tiny nano-buzzsaws. I wouldn’t and don’t care. And even if I come back and read this post on my deathbed, having accepted that they were in some way the fate-train that eventually ran me down, I time travel into my future mouth and feel it start to water with the anticipation of…just…one…more…dog. Or seven or fifteen.

As a picky kid, they were a perfect food; a super food that instantly placated my over sensitive taste buds, quickly putting an end to whatever daily vegetable food strike I was commandeering. They brought joy to mouth and a much needed relief to whomever was trying to make sure I’d at least eat something. They were a fast fix, and for a lot of us kids, one of the first foods we were able to make unsupervised. They were boiled or nuked, slathered in yellow mustard, and if there were no soft, sweet and gorgeous buns on hand, a simple slice of white bread folded around the wiener would more than suffice.

Sometimes in life it’s nice when certain things don’t change. As I get older, I often struggle to connect the person I’ve become to the person or people, I once was. My memory is okay, but when I look back at the various stages in my life, it’s almost like watching home movies about completely different people. I can look at all the photos of me as a greasy headbanger, wearing one of my many threadbare Metallica t-shirts. Or that cute little kid with the franked grill of corn niblet teeth and say, “yeah, I know these guys.” But it’s impossible to revert to earlier versions of my mind. The operating system I’m running on these days continues to advance–in age that is, not in functionality per say. And older versions are not easy to get a hold of. There’s no time machine button that allows me to go back to earlier instances of my noggin’s software. And yet in all the multitudes of moments, there are fine threads of personality and being that run through space and time like a fragile vein. A thin line of yellow mustard spanning the cosmos, oldest at its origin, yet running forwards in time. It has been said that the universe resembles a hot dog in its form. So it brings me great joy and peace that my love for red hots is still going strong.

To be frank, my adoration for red hots is not snobby. I am no hipster when it comes to hot dogs. I do not need a fancy European sausage nestled in some artisanal sourdough shell. I do not need l’ancienne mustards that have been pickled in fine wines. I don’t need my yellow god condiment be-speckled with various heirloom mustard seeds. I don’t take ketchup and I’ll only adorn my dogs with relish if it was made by my Nan. Raw onions–fine. Jalapenos–also great. Cheese? Don’t need it. Hot sauce–always. Kraut? Bring it. The cooking of a hot dog may be as simple as making cheese toast or oatmeal, and so it is fair that its assembly also be simple. There’s no mickey-mousing around with a billion toppings needed, else a wonderful and flavorful experience be laid to waste. Shame.

The perfect dog is a boiled dog. It doesn’t need fire, lest it be split in two and bled of all its natural abundance of tasty jus. It need not be rolled around slowly on a 7-11 rolly-spit, although I must admit, their red hot is a hit. A dog need not be subjected to a scalding and unforgiving pan, for that would be akin to medieval torture. And a hot dog is no witch–but simply a matter of ‘which?’

Give me a soft, sweet, chewy white bread bun made from flour that has been bleached  of all its nutrients and then had them reintroduced synthetically. Give me a small wiener that comes in a pack of 12–easily found in the processed meats section. Give me a sky-high squeezable bottle of French’s Yellow Mustard. These are the primary colors. The magical three. Eternal and divine. And for each day that cometh, it is good, and so forever will it be…

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