Note: This is a dramatic re-imagining of a real life event. All events are recorded as accurately as they need to be.
I knew from the moment that I ordered that I had chosen unwisely. "Sir," I said, "May I have a corn dog?"
The older gentleman smiled benignly, and casually tossed one of the aforementioned objects into the deep fat fryer. Perhaps my instincts were aware, but my intellect certainly wasn't, and I realized only later that my hot dog was the only one of its kind being cooked, as opposed to the large amounts of chicken nuggets and french fries .
In fast food world, when you don't prepare a whole lot of something for holding during peak hours, it means that it isn't a very popular item. When something isn't a very popular item, even when half the price of pretty much everything else on the menu, its either niche, or just bad.
I hoped it was niche. My mind wandered. I had been forced into this situation. My stomach wasn't prepared to sit through the three hour graduation unassisted. Food is a very large part of my life. Stomach needed some food, and wallet didn't have a whole lot of money. I had thus no choice but to try for the corn dog and hope for the best.
My first misgiving at the time was a financial one. I noticed the grilled cheese, which was ten cents cheaper, probably bigger, and no one has ever gotten food poisoning from a grilled cheese, right? But I wasn't brave enough to ask if I could switch my order out, and cowardice defeated wallet and stomach's pleas for mercy.
My second misgiving came when I looked through my wallet. Despite my attempted frugality, there never seems to be anything in there. It all gets funneled this way and that, and I usually end up as I did then, with nothing more than a five. Kill me now, the bill seemed to say, fully aware that he was about to be broken into three parts assorted change and two parts late night hotel toilet tour.
I only knew that I had already bit off more than I could chew, and hadn't even sunk my teeth into the corn dog yet. I wondered who had invented the corn dog and if any time travelers had made plans to kill him. It would be an interesting addition to the Terminator movies. I could just imagine Ahnold with an M249 SAW in his hands and a corndog clamped between his teeth as he gunned down foes.
When the dog was placed in my hands, the river of emotion I felt can in no way be explained. It was small. It was greasy. It was in a cardboard container that wasn't meant to hold corn dogs. It was both horrific and unnatural. Meat on a stick is not unnatural. But unnatural meat on a stick, inside of what appears to be cornbread, is unnatural squared. As I walked towards the register to pay, I did my best to hide the corn dog. I felt for sure that everyone saw me as that guy, the corn dog guy who can't cough up another two bucks to buy some decent junk food. I could imagine them all standing there, pointing and shouting "Corn Dog Guy!" repetitively as I ran the verbal gauntlet.
I reached the register before anyone was inspired to begin the chant, and sheepishly held my lunch up to the lady. I gave her old Lincoln, who had been nervously crumpled and uncrumpled until he resembled a waffle gone bad more than anything else, and just as sheepishly accepted my three dollars and seventy three cents change back. "Enjoy your corn dog," she said with a smile, focusing on the register instead of me, like you do when passing a car accident and trying not to rubberneck.
"Yea right." I thought. I actually just smiled and nodded, as protocol suggests when one is in a precarious situation one probably will not leave except in an emergency airlift.
My family looked at me accusingly as I brought the limp piece of meat towards our seating. I wanted to scream "I was young and foolish!" but my voice failed me, and I sat down in misery to attempt to eat the fruit of my works.
I prayed that it would be quick.
With the first bite, I realized that it wasn't niche. I was halfway through before I recognized the curious sensation in my mouth, but there was no mistaking it. Despite having been fried in hot grease for what had seemed like half an hour, the saucy(figuratively) fellow remained ice cold on the inside. Stomach gurgled accusingly at me. I just patted him as you would pat a small family pet that you had just backed your car over and was in its last throes.
By the time I had finished corn dog, I was thoroughly disgusted with myself and with my futile attempts at frugality and prudence. I tossed the grisly remains, and went over to the nearby water fountain to try and wash away the memories of grease that I knew would linger on in my throat and stomach for the next twenty four hours.
I eventually gave up by the time a line had formed behind me, and went to find a box of tums.