I have a dirty little secret, which is probably the main reason I am not and will never be a complete vegetarian: I love hotdogs. You can tell me all you want that they’ve got pig bladders or rat tails or human tongues or whatever in them, and you’re not going to get me to swear off them. If this is what human tongue tastes like, then sign me up as a card-carrying cannibal. As far as I know, I’ve been a hotdog-lover all my life, so much so that I can’t eat split pea soup unless it has hotdogs in it (a sneaky little trick my mother used to pull to get us to eat split pea soup was to cut up hotdogs into the soup). I’m actually pretty amazed we were allowed to eat hotdogs when we were kids, because my mother kept us on a pretty strict and healthy diet, but I guess even the most diligent parents occasionally have to give into ease and providing meals that their kids will eat without complaining.
So, here’s my question. How can I love hotdogs the way I do and have had no idea until Bob went online this morning and discovered it at dogpile.com that today is National Hotdog Day? That’s like a chocoholic not knowing that it’s Valentine’s Day or Easter. But I know why. It’s because Hallmark is falling down on the job. There may be Halloween cards in all the gift shops already, but I’ve seen not a single Hotdog Day card. You want to know what’s worse? This is actually National Hotdog Month. This is America, the country of consumerism! Why are we ignoring such an important month? Forget Christmas in July. Stores could be making a killing off of 31 days of hotdogs in July. I can see the giant buns parents would buy that would be stuffed with toys come July 21st by Sir Frankfurter, a jolly guy who comes in the middle of the night, carrying toys in a hotdog vendor’s cart. Sixteen-year-old boys could be enticed to give their sweethearts fake diamond hotdog pendants. Okay, maybe it’s not so odd that this important occasion is being ignored by gift shops and toy stores, but the grocery stores should at least have their banners flying. When Bob and I were at Trader Joes the other day, no one seemed to be the least bit aware that hotdogs should have been front and center for today’s big event.
It turns out that for me, though, this was the perfect day to be National Hotdog Day. Last night, Bob and I got together with our friends Becky and Mike for mint juleps and dinner. I’ve mentioned before that my tolerance for alcohol is about the same as that of your average white rat, and mint juleps are pretty potent, so I’ve learned that getting together with Mike and Becky for mint juleps and dinner guarantees a hangover the next day. I don’t really mind it, though, as long as I can sleep it off, because the fun and the conversation we have is worth it.
Thus I spent most of the morning sleeping off a hangover and watching DVDs. I was just beginning to feel like I was finally getting hungry for more than my standard hangover remedy of chocolate milk and toast with honey (have no idea why I crave these things when I’m hung over, but I do), when Bob announced we ought to go to our local hotdog stand, because it was National Hotdog Day. I wondered whether or not I was really up to it, but soon my stomach was really kicking up a fuss to be fed, so I pulled back my unwashed hair, threw on a baseball cap and my sneakers, and said, “Let’s go.”
Most of the time, when Bob and I are together, I tend to think about how much alike we are. We love to discuss the same sorts of things. We’re both huge worriers. We’re both extremely passionate and opinionated. I’m always pooh-poohing the notion that “opposites attract.” But then we do things like go to the hotdog stand on National Hotdog Day. This is when I remember, way too late, that I’m a shrinking violet, never wanting anyone to know I exist, hoping to get in and out of places barely having to say a word to anyone. Bob, on the other hand, is the friendly, gregarious, talk-to-strangers-on-the-New-York-subway-which-just-isn’t-done sort. Why, after nearly twelve years of marriage, I hadn’t realized he would feel it was his duty to inform everyone who worked at the hotdog stand as well as everyone who walked through the door that this was such a big day, is beyond me. Chalk it up to my inability to learn from experience or something.
So, there’s Bob, talking it up with everyone from the teenagers taking our orders to the two women who seemed to have spent a little too much time in the sun without sunscreen this morning to the guy who was way too old to be sporting that earring and those sorts of tattoos who had come in with a woman who looked like she really shouldn’t be eating hotdogs, and there was Emily wondering if we were ever going to get our food and be able to leave. I did leave, as a matter of fact, deciding I’d be the one to go stake a claim to one of the dozens of empty tables outside. This wasn’t enough, though. Everyone still knew I was with the crazy “National Hotdog Day guy,” because Bob knew perfectly well my embarrassment was the reason I’d left, so he made sure to wave at me from inside.
Like the hangover, though, all the embarrassment was well worth it, as the hotdog was sublime, despite the fact they forgot to put the cheese on I’d requested, and I wasn’t about to go back in and request it. And that crazy “National Hotdog Day guy?” Well, he turned back into the man who is so much like me as we sat at our little table discussing The Time Traveler’s Wife, one of the few books he and I have ever read simultaneously, and what we should read together next, because we had so much fun reading this one together.