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Friday, December 27, 2002  

Yesterday I thanked my sisters Debitches for the Christmas gifts they gave me. Debitch the Younger gave me a really cool scarf that’s all stripey and over ten feet long. Why, yes, I did watch a lot of Doctor Who growing up. Why do you ask?

Debitch the Elder gave me something else, and I’m going to have to back up a bit to tell you about it. Like a decade or so back.

The year we got married, one of Trash’s relatives sent us a highly specialized kitchen implement for Christmas. You know the more highly specialized a kitchen tool is, the more expensive and therefore highly coveted it’s going to be. You can get a sharp knife for a few bucks and use it for everything from chopping onions to opening hermetically sealed blister packages to dissecting your cat, but a quality watermelon peeler, which you can never use for anything other than peeling watermelons, is going to set you back a couple of bills. Clothes are the same way, but I’m going to reign in the topic drift because I’m on a deadline here.

So, like I was saying, this particular kitchen implement was highly specialized. Highly. It was designed to do one thing, and one thing only, and that was to cook hot dogs.

You can imagine the kind of hot dogs that would come out of such a device. You can imagine enjoying the authentic sidewalk cuisine of Times Square, Bourbon Street, and Michigan Avenue without ever leaving your kitchen. You can imagine the ultimate hot dog experience.

You can imagine it all you want, in fact, because it ain’t gonna happen.

Here’s how the hot dog cooker “worked:” It was a plastic box just slightly larger than the two-tape home video of Titanic. You’d plug the power cord into a standard electrical outlet. Then you’d open the clear plastic lid on top and drop the desired number of wieners into one or more of the four wiener-sized slots. Then you’d close the lid.

When the lid closed, metal electrodes would pierce each end of the wiener, infusing the meat with a hearty dose of pure, savory Northern States Power*. Mmm-mmm! Ampere-licious!

Basically, the hot dog got cooked the way Michael Jeter got cooked in The Green Mile, only with less screaming.

Wait, that’s not true. I didn’t scream at all when I saw The Green Mile, so it actually comes out even.

Unlike the hot dog, which didn’t come out even at all. I used the cooker once. Okay, even that’s not strictly true; I tested the cooker once, then never plugged it in again. Trash was afraid to even test it, so it fell to me. I popped a couple of wieners in and sparked it up. I ignored the way the thing sounded like an angry hornet trying to get out of a running vibrator. I braved the aggressive smell of Oscar Mayer ozone filling the air. Trash cowered on the other side of the room.

When the hot dogs were “done,” the ends of the wieners were somehow both rubbery and inelastic, and also very black. The middles were still refrigerator-cold. I only know that from touching them, because even I wasn’t about to eat meat that had just been used to complete a circuit. I don’t care that my hot dog contains assholes and eyeballs. I care that it tastes like a meat Popsicle with the stick pulled out and charred gum erasers stuck on the ends. I care that it smells like Old Sparky at 12:03 a.m. I care that it contains electrons that were in freaking Monticello five seconds ago.

We wondered whether the cooker might work better if we used a brand of hot dog with higher or lower conductivity. Unfortunately those nutrition labels only tell you the number of calories they have—not the number of ohms. So we gave up rather than run the risk of having a kitchen that smelled like that little room at Sing Sing. But since the cooker was a gift from a relative, we couldn’t throw it away. Instead, we gave it to my sister the following Christmas.

I don’t know that she ever even test-fired the thing. Mystifying, really, considering the sales job that Trash and I gave it. Instead, she wrapped it up and gave it to my other sister a year later.

Every year since, the joy of opening Christmas gifts at my parents’ house has been punctuated with curses as I, or one of my sisters, or one of our significant others, open a package that turns out to contain the dreaded wiener zapper. Sure, we’ll dress it up—Debitch the Younger presented it to Trash one year as a piece of Xena merch, and we gave it to Debitch the Elder’s S.O. last year along with a talking condiment dispenser—but every Christmas, someone else is taking the hot dog cooker home for a year.

This year it was me. Debitch the Elder boxed it up with some buns, ketchup, mustard, and actual hot dogs. We have no idea how long those hot dogs went unrefrigerated, but Trash and Debitch the Elder both assured me that they were unsafe to eat.

Such a shame to waste good hot dogs like that. If only there were some kind of Frankensteinian device that I could use to bring them back to life…hmm.

* Xcel Energy was still called NSP back then. I do research now, remember?

posted by M. Giant 3:19 PM 0 comments


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