What a Wiener

~By Katie Blais

When I was twelve, I decided to become a vegetarian.  At the time my brother, who is six years older than me, was dating Kate, a tall, willowy gal, who not only shared my namesake but always let me tag along with her and my brother—much to his chagrin of course.  I looked up to Kate, with her cool early 90’s style—not too grungy and no big hair—she listened to Mathew Sweet and Morrissey, bought me clothes on my birthday, and was a vegetarian. It wasn’t until later I realized she was completely crazy and crashed my brother’s car during a fight on their way to school, but at the time she was the epitome of cool, so obviously if she wasn’t going to eat meat than neither was I.

There was one problem with my no meat plan, the fact that my twelve-year-old self (and still my 27.75 self) loved hot dogs. And so my strict vegetarian diet lasted two days until I was derailed by a steamed hot dog cart while I was riding up to New Hampshire with my mother and my grandmother. The smell of ketchup, the steamy roll, and the tube of mystery meat lured me in. How could I give up something that I cherished so much for a life of tofu and hummus?

The fact was hot dogs to me equaled happiness. However, not all hot dogs are created equal. Take for example those horrible ones that snap when you bite into them or those suspect dogs that roll around at the 7-11 for all eternity. But a hot dog done right can be heaven, for me at least.  Below are some of my favorite hot dog moments … my life in wieners, if you will.

  • Memorial Day:  Growing up, Memorial Day went something like this … go to the parade, drive around the cemeteries to plant flowers, and then have a BBQ with my grandparents at my house … a grilled hot dog with lots of ketchup on a buttery grilled bun.
  • 5th Grade Field Day: Taking a break from dodge ball and obstacle courses, I ate a hot dog, with lots of ketchup, and my strange homeroom teacher commented “Katie likes hot dog with her ketchup.”
  • Summers in Maine:  We would always make a trek up to Freeport to go to L.L. Bean, which included two high lights: the pond in the middle of the store AND the steamed hot dog vendors outside.
  • 10th Grade Field Hockey:  Our bus stopped at Dairy Queen after an away game. Sadly, I only got one dog from DQ, ate it in .5 seconds, and then regretted not getting a second one the rest of the bumpy bus ride home.
  • Afterschool with Mom: A friendly Frank with an orange soda and a cone head sundae.
  • Springtime:  The opening of Lee’s Hot Dog stand in my home town … the first Tom Boat of the year was the best, a grilled dog, soggy fries, and a flat coke … so bad, yet so good.
  • Study Abroad 2001: A weekend in Sweden was topped off with a hot dog date with Tommy. I had no idea Sweden was known for their dogs, but they were all over the place in Uppsala.
  • Fenway Park: When I was younger, I needed a fenway frank in between cotton candy and soda. Nowadays, I need one in between overpriced cups of beer.
  • New York City: Visiting with another one of my brother’s girlfriends, a slightly less crazy one, we stumbled into a midtown bar that gave away free hot dogs. I flirted with the firefighter/bartender to give me two with ketchup, of course.

Grilled, steamed, fried, with beans or with potato chips, how can anyone resist a hot dog? I am so glad my brief preteen fling with vegetarianism lasted only a few days … just look what I would have missed out on!

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