When left to my own devices, I don’t always make the best choices. This is especially true when it comes to eating lunch by myself. A few weeks ago (on the day of Nathan’s fake birthday party), I had lunch at the Popeye’s Chicken/Gold Coast Dogs a block away from the new office.
I got a two piece and a biscuit, then settled down at a Formica table to, you know, chow down. I didn’t have much company in the restaurant, which was fine. I could enjoy my lunch in a quiet setting. Besides, who else would be at Popeye’s on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon?
A tour group, that’s who. A number of folks clutching digital cameras and wearing sensible shoes shuffled in while their guide put down her flag, whipped out a pen and paper, and began to write down their orders. While the guide ordered food for her group at the counter, her guests shifted in their seats, flipped through pictures on their cameras, and looked eager to enjoy some lunch.
Once the guide returned and distributed their hot dogs, the tourists’ chatter was replaced by the sound of eating. I enjoyed my biscuit in relative peace, but then the guide started a spiel about the Chicago-style hot dog. She talked about its history, the absence of ketchup, and the individual components. The guide asked if people had questions. If they did, they couldn’t ask as they were eating.
I didn’t pay too much attention — I was distracted by how juicy the chicken was — and then I heard her say something like this:
“Well, some people say that the different ingredients represent the different ethnic — ethnic? — communities of Chicago.”
People continue eating. I took a sip of my orange soda.
“The green relish, for example, would be for the city’s Irish community!”
Sigh. I stopped sipping.
I’m not sure where she’s going with this. I probably should have sat there longer, waiting to hear the rest. But I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear her say something to the effect of the yellow mustard representing, I don’t know, Chinatown. And I was in no mood to stand up and yell “What the actual fuck are you talking about?” before whipping out my phone so we could all look up, together, the meaning of each ingredient in a Chicago-style hot dog. I could have stopped her right there and started yelling about “You better not be trying to say the mustard represents the Asians!” but by that point not only would I have ruined my lunch, I would have ruined theirs as well. And what kind of a welcome would that be?
Instead, I quickly finished my lunch, threw out the wrappings, and left the tour group to their day.
In case you were wondering about the pictures. I didn’t have a picture that adequately illustrated “I’m trying to say something about race and hot dogs because I have important thoughts, y’all!” Instead, I have these pictures from a visit to the Chicago History Museum three years ago with Jeff and Nite. Enjoy!