The Thunker - Sarah Donohoe

Warning: The first part of this column is not for the weak of stomach. Read at your own risk. Unless you’re 13. Then you should definitely read it.

“The Exorcist” was a horror movie released in 1973, when I was 13. I never saw it but everybody at school was talking about it. It was about a 12-year-old girl possessed by demons and it was scary and gory and gross. People fainted while watching it, kids said, eyes agape in horror.

Especially fascinating to me was the talk that in one scene of the movie the possessed girl tossed her cookies. (Hey, I was a typical young teen intrigued by the things adults would rather not talk about.) The rumor flying around Monroe Junior High School was that it was really pea soup. Eeeeuuuu. And her head spun around 360 degrees!

The Bible tells a story of evil spirits possessing a man near the Sea of Galilee. Jesus exorcised the evil from the man and sent “Legion” into the bodies of 2,000 pigs nearby. The swine, now deranged, rushed down a steep bank into the sea and drowned. This story is captivating too. There are bad guys, the performing of a miracle, and a happy ending (for the man, not the pigs).

Those poor pigs, snuffling and snorting about with their snouts to the ground, looking for grubs and other tasty morsels to eat and minding their own pig business, when the next thing they knew, they were driven to run off a cliff to their tragic demise.

This must be what it’s like when a hog farmer takes his livestock to the stockyards and the unsuspecting animals become tomorrow’s hot dogs.

Hot dogs.

This past Fourth of July, in honoring a longstanding American tradition, I ate my annual hot dog. It’s a once-a-year thing for me, eating a hot dog. (I’m in the minority when it comes to coney consumption. Annually Americans consume 20 billion hot dogs. That’s billion—with a B. So I figure it’s ok for me to eat one a year. I can do it as long as I don’t think about what a frankfurter is made of.) Hot dogs taste surprisingly good, darn it. Yet when I read the list of ingredients and see words like diacetate, erythrobate and nitrite, and five ingredients that include the word sodium, I know they’re bad. Bad dogs.

The original frankfurters that came to this country from Frankfurt, Germany in the late 1800s were made with pork only. Today however, cheaper wieners are made with a mixture of pork and chicken (and other things too weird to mention). If I’m going to eat a hot dog, it needs to be a quality product. For our Fourth of July supper I went all out and bought 100% beef franks. Nathan’s Famous. Jumbo. Restaurant style—whatever that means.

Because I’m not a regular consumer of hot dogs, I had to rely on the internet to tell me how to grill them. I bid on a grill at a Rotary fundraiser last year and won, so I have a nice Weber grill. (The competition was fierce. It got down to the last few seconds and two of us hovered over the bid sheet, elbowing each other out of the way. Right at the very end, he was a gentleman and stepped aside so I could win the coveted grill. He was so nice about it I felt like he should have taken the grill home.)

(Oh well.)

I reviewed several websites and felt certain I could do this without causing “hot dog havoc,” as one site described it. (That occurs when the griller tries to turn the wieners so all sides get those nice striped grill marks but they won’t stay put, rolling back to their original side.)

I managed to grill up a great pack of hot dogs. There were none with split skins, they got just the right amount of burnt, and I even toasted the buns on the upper rack, all without angst. With ketchup, mustard and pickle relish on top (gotta have that pickle relish), I was able to actually enjoy my once-a-year hot dog.

The “seedless” watermelon with more seeds in it than a Kansas sunflower…now that’s another story.

You may let The Thunker know what you think at her e-mail address, donoholdt@gmail.com.

© 2020 Sarah Donohoe

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