Hot Dog Fear

Location: Outside of Chicago, IL

Left around 10am after another totally excellent meal at Sheetz, which was some kind of sausage … thing with something I will define as an “egg-like substance.”  Neggs?  Feggs?  I’ll get back to you.  From there I left for Chicago, which meant driving through the rest of Ohio and all of Indiana en route to see mom and dad.

Talked to dad at some point in the morning – he was south of Indianapolis, which made him significantly farther along than I was.  This was against the original plan, goddamit, he was supposed to be much later than I was, which meant I had to miss out on the biggest collection of fireworks in America at some place in Eastern Indiana – I think it rhymed with “Clemont” and began with a “P”, so we’ll call it … Plemont, IN.

Anyway, as I was ripping along 80, I came upon signs that I was passing South Bend, IN.  I couldn’t stop myself – a weird hand seized the wheel of the car (I have to come up with a name for this vehicle sometime soon), and ‘ere I knew it I had pulled into the campus of Notre Dame, gazing fixedly on the golden dome of the … I dunno, where they wash the feet of the football players or something.  I found some parking and mingled with the young people there for freshman orientation, idly pretending that I was going back to school for awhile on some kind of ridiculous football scholarship.

In time the fantasy wore off, and I hopped back into Esmerelda (no, it’s not working.  There’s a name there somewhere) and drove off to Illinois, letting out a little “yay!” as I crossed the border and immediately encountered a toll booth.

Illinois has co-opted Route 80 for their own nefarious purposes, and they have toll-booths set up everywhere that are $.80 each, exact change only, like a nightmare of NJ.  The roads are broad, which is good, but unfinished and a dull grey, offsetting the unchanging scenery of the corn and silos and smokestacks.

I finally pulled in and reunited with my family around 5:30pm to the Embassy Suites, and we enjoyed a free drink at the bar during “Manager’s Hour”, the tavern humming with the polo-shirted middle-managers of the Sara Lee Bread Co., an evil lot with dark, dangerous secrets hidden behind lifeless doll’s eyes.  I shudder to think of what they’re putting in that pound-cake.  Consider this your warning.

From there we decided to go to SuperDawg, a “Chicago Landmark” (sorry, people of Chicago, I’m sure you don’t want to be remembered this way).  The Super Dawg is a place of severe awesomeness, and the crunchy “red hot” I received, complete with the works (no ketchup), nestled in a bed of french fries was like a little piece of gassy heaven.  I washed this down with a thick chocolate shake and felt sated for the first time since I sold the house, like Odysseus sighting home for the first time.

Hot dogs + Chicago = Blues Music, according to a special theory from my father, so we decided to head out to a place he “got directions” for, somewhere outside of Chicago.  The White Sox played today, and the game broke up around the time we left, and this made us so very, very sad.  I did enjoy the part of the day where dad drove into the inner city in what I have termed “the whitest car I ever saw” – whew, if only you could have been there with me.

We decided (and by “we”, I mean “dad”) that Blues could go to hell, so I sang some Blues music for us on the way back to the hotel.  Finally we arrived safe and sound, where the digesting SuperDawg menaced my dream as a hot-dog shaped Sara Lee employee brandishing a blade made of relish and a shield of pickled tomatoes.  I’m still struggling with that one.

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