Writing helps pass the time, and already the most mundane things are creeping into my head. So I'm going to write about hot dogs.
Fat me, circa early 2005, ate a lot of red meat. By a lot, I mean it was every meal. It wasn't filet mignon either, more like Whopper Jr.'s and that tasteless $1.49 steak at the end of the meat case. To be really gross, a decade before that, I would go on my lunch break from CompUSA to the Marc's grocery store next door for a "death dog," as we called them, because they were the lowest form of questionable meat you could find, and only 25 cents.
That year was also a year of great stress and turmoil for me, as my first wife and I split, I felt professionally wandering after finishing my book, and hey, look at that, my health sucks. I was frequently clocking in at 230 pounds (while 5'8") and walking up stairs caused me to be out of breath. All of the change and uncertainty was a shock to the system, and I responded by trying to control whatever I could. As one sometimes does, I realized that I can control my own body, so I adopted a regimen of exercise, diet change and body piercing. I'll write about the last part another day.
I was making some serious bank doing consulting jobs, and being single-ish with no children, there was a real lifestyle benefit to that. I had gotten ahead financially enough by early summer, when one of my former volleyball kids suggested that I coach her previous high school team. In retrospect, I'm not sure what I was thinking, adding something emotionally exhausting like that to my already emotionally exhausting life, but I agreed, and decided to make that my full-time pursuit for a few months. Being a participating coach, I did the laps and stretching every day, and I needed that routine.
The outcome is that I dropped 30 pounds, and emotionally exhausting as it was, it stands as one of the most meaningful jobs I ever had. This was associated with some changes in eating that I started some time before, including the complete removal of red meat from my diet. I didn't have anything against it, per se, only that it was clearly the source of most of my cholesterol, which was all scary in terms of numbers. Even relative to the volume of fried food I would eat, which was infrequent, the red meat intake was excessive. So I stopped. I haven't had a beef hamburger in 15 years.
A few months ago, the chef at work assembled what I would describe as a picnic food lunch, and knowing about the diverse dietary considerations of people, he did turkey hot dogs. I knew these were a thing, certainly, and I have turkey burgers whenever I can, but even when I'm shopping and buying hot dogs for my kid, one of the three things he'll reliably eat, I pass right over the turkey dogs. Last week I resolved this, though admittedly I had to get over the "mechanically separated turkey" in the ingredients list (they didn't have Ball Park, which just uses white meat).
What a strange sensation it is to eat a food like that after not having it in such a long time. There's a texture thing going on there that I can't explain. The taste isn't the most critical thing, because let's be honest, mostly what you taste is salt. Maybe it's that you don't normally eat other things in a bun the same way.
I had hot dogs.