Spring = baseball = hotdogs. Simplistic Americana in its truest form. I had the luxury of an evening at Fenway to see a game and I was going to have the legendary Fenway Frank for dinner. Now, allow me to preface this with the fact that I’ve eaten easily dozens of these things at Fenway since my youth. Young adulthood brought a new angle to the experience with the onset of my 21st birthday and subsequent imbibing sessions known informally as “pre-game, “game” and “post-game.” I won’t bore you with details. We’ve all been there. However at Fenway the only cure for the…um…side effects was a minimum of 2 Fenway Franks chased by 2 beers. I can honestly say that tasting the dog was at best tertiary on my list of Fenway fun, bested by maintaining my buzz and looking at girls. They served a function more than an experience. Now I’m all grown up (Playwrightguy might argue this but I digress). Sox tickets are more rare than a Republican at a free-range seaweed coolata stand so when I was asked to go I didn’t waste any time with dinner beforehand…I rode the T and went right to the altar of arguably the most famous encased meat in baseball.
Waiting in a line that moved faster than David Ortiz running to first, I was bathed in the glow of local nostalgia. An olfactory buffet of hundred year old stale beer, sausages and Drakkar Noir. Not nearly as dank as I remember but then again, I was clearer…mostly. While overhearing the conversation of the Ya-Dudes behind me (translation: “Dude, is Papi DH?” “Ya Dude, he effin’ is!”) I approached the counter and gave the man a non-verbal high sign for 2 franks. I shouldn’t have watched him. What I witnessed was a health inspectors nightmare. The pleasant man emptied the tip cup into his bare hand, pocketed the change then proceeded to fish out a “fresh” wiener that he held out while talking with a colleague, eventually making its way into the bun…did I mention he was still bare handed? Did I also mention the lack of hand washing station, tongs or even tissue paper? I paid for my dog-duo and walked away holding these squishy, tainted logs of overblown reputation. Before applying condiments I debated on whether to risk the unsanitary management and consume them or do I try another vendor. This actually took about 5 seconds after remembering how much I shelled out for them so I applied the requisite yellow mustard and packet relish and threw caution to the wind.
As I approach middle age, I often think of how life evolves, opinions change, experiences fade and in this instance, I wished to be 22 again. Drunk with a $12 standing-room-only ticket shoved in my pocket while downing franks at Fenway without a care in the world. I really should have had the pretzel…..