Do you ever look back on things you did when you were younger and reflect on the absurdity of them? Maybe it was that one shirt you had to wear to school but after seeing it in pictures you wish someone had stopped you. Or maybe it was that strange trend of tucking in your shirt in the front above your belt buckle and nowhere else (And people rarely even wore belt buckles. Seriously why did we do that?). Or maybe it was the pocket watch I may or may not have bought at the flea market. Of course I took the pocket watch to school. Taking it out every 15 minutes to ensure that my classmates always knew what time it was. You’re welcome 4th grade classmates. I think you get the picture. At any rate, there is one activity that I did growing up that stands out as particularly outrageous. Ladies and gentlemen, I loved Vienna Sausages. Every day when I came home there was a specific routine. 1. Drop my backpack immediately upon entering the house (my mom hated that) 2. Turn on nickelodeon 3. Vienna Sausage time! I would eat them plain, I would fold a piece of bread around them and enjoy them hot dog style, I would eat them with an array of condiments, and if I was feeling particularly classy on a given day I would stick tooth picks in them and have distinguished hors d’oeuvres while enjoying my early afternoon television. It was great! Life was simple, nickelodeon was in its prime and Vienna Sausages were in endless supply. I know what you’re thinking. How could life have been any better than that? Simply put, it couldn’t. I discovered the elusive “American Dream” at a very young age.
That is until my senior year of college. (Open scene) It was a rainy day. The kind of day that you simply want to spend laying in the bed, watching tv, and trying not to hate yourself for being a 0 on the productivity scale. We’ve all been there. One of those days where the hardest task you intend to complete is getting up and walking to the restroom. And, you only do that when your bladder tells you that if you lay there any longer it’s going to give up the “holding it” fight. I had been quite successful that day. I made it to about 5:00 PM when it hit me. I remembered that I needed to eat to stay alive. I begrudgingly got out of the bed and walked to the kitchen. My pantry and fridge were exactly what you would expect to see in a 21 year old guy’s apartment. I was so disappointed that I went back and laid down to reflect on my next move. After an hour I walked back to the pantry. In the back I found none other than a can (how good can canned meat be anyway? I guess tuna is ok.) of Vienna Sausages. I remembered I had bought them a year and a half prior when I was walking through the store. I saw them and wanted to relive my childhood. However, I forgot about them and they sat in the pantry for almost 2 years. I grabbed them and examined the outside of the can. I was elated to find that after all this time they still weren’t expired! In retrospect maybe that should have been a warning. I danced around the kitchen grabbing a plate and some bread thinking about the nostalgia I was about to experience.
Everything was perfect. The mood was right, the occasion was right, and I was even going to watch old nickelodeon shows. Then, I opened the can. I forced my finger under the metal tab, lifted it and pulled back the lid. There were several observations that were made in a very specific order. 1. A distinct smell oozed out of the can. 2. I realized that I should have drained the broth from the can before I completely removed the lid. And 3. I wondered what the f*** I had just gotten myself into. I poured the mysterious broth down the drain until the can held only the 7 wieners. I stared at them. They stared back. Neither of us wavered. I noticed they weren’t all the exact same color and one of them had a bright yellow spot on the end of it. There was no way I could do this. These things were gross! Everything I knew and loved about this world was a lie. I went through the 5 stages of grief. Denial, this wasn’t real. Clearly the people at the Vienna Sausage plant had modified the secret formula making them totally outrageous in the time that I had been away from the Vienna Sausage game. Anger, I wanted to call every friend and family member that I thought knew and loved me and ask them one very simple question. Why? Why did you sit back and let me eat Vienna’s (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention I just called them Vienna’s. First name basis. We were close.) every day? Did they know what could have happened to me? Bargaining, if only I would have discovered the error of my ways sooner! I could have been the first 21 year old president. Or the first 21 year old on the mars. I had missed so much. And for what? Vienna Sausages? Depression, I ached. Not only had I lost a food. I lost a childhood friend, a hero of sorts. Gone. Acceptance, only now have I reached a point where I can discuss my experience with Vienna Sausages. My hope is that others who share my experience may find strength in my story. If you eat them, good for you. We can still be friends. I won’t judge you. Just make sure you know that they could be the one thing standing between you and that new car or promotion that you have been wanting. I’m not sure how that is possible. But it could happen. No but seriously why did I eat those?