The Flight of the Hot Dog
Hot dogs and I go way back. Back before Ralph Nader called them one of "America's Deadliest Missiles". Good thing parents back then were into mass marketing and convenience. If they weren't, I would have never witnessed "The Flight Of The Hot Dog". And would've missed a great Kodak moment.
That memorable day involved my 3rd-grade birthday party, a kid named Bruce, a hot dog, and, of course, the physics of ballistics.
Mom had invited a herd of boys over for my birthday party. There was games, hats, gifts - it was GREAT! We sat down at the dining room table for lunch. Mom had gone all out. A white linen table cloth, bright birthday napkins, silverware, glasses, and real plates all circling a huge double-layer chocolate cake.
(Looking back from my own parental perspective, setting a table like that for a bunch of 3rd-graders is like decorating the town before Attila and the Horde arrive.)
We all got a hot dog. With a bun. And unlimited condiments.
(Read that to mean that Mom, the only adult present, went into the kitchen for some peace and quiet. Yeah. There's an "oops".)
Bruce took that moment to make birthday party history.
(A little background on Bruce. He's the kid that makes a Sunday School teacher reach for a crucifix to start the exorcism. Or a quick pull on a hip flask, depending on your denomination.)
Bruce stood up, grabbed the mustard, and proceeded to baptize the 'dog in its Wonder Bun. He then, in the true spirit of ecumenicalism, did the same thing with the ketchup. It was obvious that his family believed in total immersion.
He gently picked up the oozing bun then switched his grip, wrapping it up with both hands.
Like a horn-playing herald in a King Arthur movie.
Or a pygmy with a blowgun. Your choice.
"Ooooh, BOY!", he grinned as he brought it to his mouth.
And that's when Mom walked in.
As Bruce went to bite down, he squeezed the bun. It was like watching those movies where the ICBM comes outta the silo. But more horizontal.
Decades later, it still plays through my mind in slow motion.
The well-lubricated hot dog blasted out of the bun, slipping the surly bonds of white bread as it trailed globs of yellow and red, its pink tube straining for the heavens.
Mom's eyes slammed wide open as her mouth started to make that first parental command most of us heard.
The hot dog ascended about four feet, staying well within the troposphere, before gravity brought it crashing down. It did an impressive bounce that barely missed the birthday cake then rolled down the middle of the table, leaving a vivid condiment contrail.
It finally stopped, lying still and serene in a puddle of yellow and red that bled slowly into the white linen table cloth.
It was like being at Kitty Hawk but I don't think Orville and Wilbur's mom had the same reaction. They didn't try to land on her tablecloth.
Looking back, my next birthday party was held outside on the picnic table. And Bruce wasn't invited. And neither were the hot dogs.
Hot dogs. They don't taste like much, but I like 'em.
They remind me of ... fun.