Monday, December 17, 2007

For Want Of A Chili Dog

My two youngest boys had a basketball tournament this weekend, different brackets at the same location. Between Saturday and Sunday I spent 20 1/2 hours creating this particular childhood memory for my beloved offspring. That's 1,230 minutes or 73,800 seconds, in case you're wondering.

As one might guess, I'm not a particularly fussy eater and I can usually cram just about anything down my gullet with a fair amount of satisfaction. The choices were pretty slim here, though. The best of the bad lot were the chili dogs and they weren't much to write home about. God knows I love a chili dog as much as anyone, but these weren't much more than a tube of snout covered with ground cow in ketchup sauce. Still, better than the alternative offered here, the "walking taco." Notwithstanding my youngest's enthusiasm for them, a bag of Doritos doused in the aforementioned dual purpose sauce tastes even worse than it sounds.

So chili dogs it was. At least until Sunday, when, about to place my order, my phone rang. "Oh," I said to the person behind the counter, "it's my oldest son. He's spending the day at a friend's house. Excuse me for a second." Reception being what it is in an old brick school building, I went outside to take the call.

Surprisingly, he had not called to express his affection for me. By the time he'd worked through my shortcomings and allowed me to return to the concession stand, there were at least thirty people ahead of me. The volunteers who run these stands are lovely people, bless their souls, but speed is not their hallmark. Twenty minutes later I was back to the front of the line.

"I'd like a chili dog," I said.

"Sorry, we just ran out," was the reply. "We have walking tacos though."

Thank you Lord for once again smiling upon me.

By midafternoon I was starving. There was some time between games so the boys and I went to a nearby IHOP with my youngest's teammates and his teammate's father, who happens to be a friend of mine. The waitress brought each of the boys a children's menu with crayons and then left to take another table's order.

My middle child was outraged. "I'm not a freaking baby. I want a real menu."

"Technically you're still young enough to order off the children's menu. And stop saying 'freaking' all the time or I'll freaking kill you."

"I'm ordering from the adult menu."

"Why, what do you want?"

"Chicken strips."

"Chicken strips are four dollars less on the children's menu. Get those."

"No. I want the adult ones."

"They're the same thing for God's sake. I'm not paying an extra four dollars for the same thing just so you can use a different menu."

"I'll pay for it myself," he said.

"No you won't," I said. "I'm not letting you waste your money for the benefit of IHOP shareholders."

"You waste money all the time," he said. "Like that wine you bought yesterday."

"That's not a waste," I replied. "You'll understand if you're ever unlucky enough to have kids. Besides, the kid's menu includes a soda."

The offer of a completely nutrition free food group quieted him a little. Meanwhile, my youngest and his friend were drawing violent battle scenes on their menus. "Watch out with those crayons," I said to my kid. "You almost put your eye out the last time you tried to color."

He pretended to ignore me. Suddenly he clutched my arm, burying his head in it.

"Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow," he whimpered.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"My eye. Ow, ow, ow."

"Sit up and stop screwing around," I said.

"No, really, I poked myself."

"Knock it off. I'm not in the mood for this kind of idiocy," I said.

"Ow, ow, ow, ow," he said, his face still in my shoulder.

"What the hell are you doing?" I asked.

"I picked up the menu and it cut my eye."

Maybe he wasn't kidding after all.

"Are you okay?"

"No, it hurts, ow, ow, ow, ow."

I led him to the men's room where I gradually coaxed his hand away from his eye. After applying some wet towels to it, pretty much the extent of my medical expertise, I asked him how it felt.

"It's still blurry," he said, but I didn't see any dangling nerves and he could count the fingers I held up. I led him back to the table.

Sitting down, I noticed my friend snickering and my middle son glowering at the soda he'd been brought while I'd been gone. It had been served in a four ounce foam cup decorated with Petie the Plucky Pancake or some damn thing.

The boy shot daggers across the room at the waitress. "I think she's trying to piss me off," he said.

"Probably," said my friend. "Want me to see if I can get you a sippy cup instead?"

I could see my son weighing how much trouble he'd get into if he told my friend to shut up. Making a wise decision, he instead turned to me and said, "I hate this place."

"I'm none too fond of it myself," I said, stirring the cup of brackish chicken soup I'd been served. Four hours to go, I thought. Two hundred forty minutes. Fourteen thousand four hundred and forty seconds.


Kathleen said...

and so I hope you've learned the lesson that millions of other Americans have learned: Always Talk on the Cell Phone Anywhere At Anytime While Doing Anything.

Jennifer said...

a tube of snout covered with ground cow in ketchup sauce

You're such a romantic, Snag!

FYI- I don't suggest using the term walking taco in front of any female company.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

You put me off my chili.

Why didn't you send your sons in the Bake-off packages? One for AG and one for Jennifer.

fish said...

FYI- I don't suggest using the term walking taco in front of any female company.



Jennifer said...



Yeah, I promise to have my mind back out of the gutter by '08.

Snag said...

Go figure that Jennifer would turn out to be the filthbot in our midst.

Anonymous said...


Brando said...

Having already been tipped off by fish that our sweet, designer-white-sugar using Jennifer had left another comment bomb over here, I read this post looking for clues like Nicholas Cage looking for a way out of another crappy National Treasure movie.

When I reached "walking taco," I thought, "nah, not Jennifer. I mean, sure, she went through the same comedy program that warped my fragile Catholic mind, but she's above a walking taco/hoo hah joke, right?"

Instead, I received a supersize combo meal of WRONG.

I also have eaten a walking taco (in the literal sense), so I know why the caged Snag sings.

Anonymous said...

I mean, sure, she went through the same comedy program that warped my fragile Catholic mind, but she's above a walking taco/hoo hah joke, right?"

Mine was already warped pre-this comedy program. And... one of their cardinal rules was, "Play to the level of your intelligence! Don't be tempted by the easy dick joke!"

Well... it wasn't a dick joke and Snag walked right into that walking taco... that's all I'm sayin'.

fish said...

Snag walked right into that walking taco

I have been trying to figure out how this could happen. I think I finally have.

Anonymous said...

The NYTimes was just talking about her.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Bill looks like he's planning some climbing...

Snag said...

I don't know if she's playing to the level of her intelligence, but she seems to be playing to the level of my readership.

Kathleen said...

You put me off my chili.

someone put me off tacos.