August 28, 2014 – I took a stroll along the side yard this morning to talk with the ducks. We’ve become quite friendly. They are pleasant chaps, the three of them, and I so enjoy hearing them repeat each other’s words as if every thought is a matter of national importance. While I was visiting the upper region of our property, I overheard Mom as she was lifting the lid to the gas grill.
“Will you look at that,” she laughed. “Two hot dogs left over from last night’s supper. I can’t believe we forgot they were in here.”
I flew to her side and offered my assistance in the disposal of the overlooked and overdone frankfurters.
“Sure, Hap,” Mom said placing the day-old dogs on a paper plate for me. “You can have them if you want. Share them with the ducks if you care to.”
I was thinking that I could scoff them both down in a heartbeat, but when I looked over my shoulder, the ducks were standing in a row watching me. The pressure was too much. I cleared my throat and did the polite thing.
“Boys… would you care to join me in this unexpected treat?”
Their echo-quacking was almost immediate. I quickly cut the hot dogs up with my beak to make sure we each received an equitable share.
“Why do you suppose humans call these hot dogs?” Eustace asked in-between gulps.
“Yes, why do they?” Merida and Leisl, the drakes with female names asked in unison.
I was nearly done with my portion when I stopped to consider the question which now hung in the air like a sluggish hornet in fall. Suddenly, it was hard to swallow.
“You don’t think…” Eustace said, drawing out each word deliberately. He held up a 2-inch length of the charred unknown and regarded it carefully.
“…A hint of impropriety?” Leisl offered in a raspy whisper.
“I’ve heard of dog-eat-dog before,” Merida uttered, barely able to form the words. “But this…”
I wasn’t hungry anymore.
“I’ll be right back,” I said dropping what was in my wing on the ground. I ran to the front window of the house and cupped my feathers. There was Mom at her work desk. On the floor next to her was Chowdah, the basset hound. Sleeping on the couch were the beagles, Willow and Sadie. The orange feline was snoozing in the window seat across the room and the kitten Holly, was trying to run off with Mom’s computer mouse. (If I hadn’t been so freaked out, that would have been funny.)
Mom saw me.
“Can you come see us?” I asked leaning into the screen.
She appeared before us a moment later.
“These hot dogs you gave us…” I felt my stomach lurch. “What are they made from?”
Mom could see the concerned look on our faces. Then it clicked, and she let out a raucous roar.
“Oh my goodness,” she laughed. “Well. That question is one of life’s greatest mysteries. But what I do know with absolute certainty, is that it’s not called a hot dog because of… well, you know. They’re long in shape, like a wiener dog. In fact, I believe they were first called dachshund sausages when they were served at a ballpark. A sports cartoonist couldn’t spell dachshund, so he nicknamed them, “hot dogs”. They’re perfectly safe to eat… unless you read the package, but we try not to.”
“Grilling probably kills the germs,” Eustace reasoned.
“Yes, yes,” his brothers agreed before gobbling up what was left on the plate.
My stomach felt much better.
“Maybe we should stick to calling them frankfurters,” I suggested.
“Who’s Frank?” Merida asked.
I spun around and stared at Mom.
“Why don’t we call them sizzling sausages,” Mom quickly proposed.
Sizzling sausages. I liked the way it sounded in my mouth. So did the ducks. They waddled all over the yard repeating the phrase in triplicate.