How best to marinate a hotdog
There’s an argument, or an inside joke rather, that has been ongoing between myself and a good friend of mine for a very long time. The joke stems from my unfounded belief that it is possible to marinate a hotdog in ketchup, thus creating the ultimate American dinner, and his (probably more rational) assessment that the idea is ludicrous. The experiment, conducted many years ago, failed miserably, but I still believe it is possible to do, and therefore refuse to relinquish my opinion (and ongoing research) on the matter.
The reason I bring up such an important topic this week is because it is a timely matter. You see, the first marination argument occurred during a Flambeau Rama some decade or so ago, and to this day I get passionate about hotdogs the first week of August. The whole ordeal is hilarious, light-hearted and keeps memories from days long gone fresh in both our minds. Such is the goal of festival season though, and I’m glad to be around for another one.
Festivals are important. Cutting loose, catching up, and shaking hands - it's all-important. They are time set aside to be merry, celebrate our similarities, our differences, and create together a living culture. Festivals are timeless, but they are always about a time, and a place. Annual events like Lumberman’s Day, Pioneer Days, Flambeau Rama, the Price County Fair, Prentice Progress Days, and the Ogema Christmas Tree Festival are cultural cornerstones that signify cooperation, tradition, and growth. Getting out, catching up and being social are essential to maintaining healthy relations with the other people that help make our land fruitful. While I may be a proponent of reclusive habits, I will be the first to acknowledge the importance of the social side every well-rounded person needs to exercise.
Soon, old friends will begin rolling into town, spending time at a cabin in the area, or calling to go fishing in the afternoon. We will get together to share adult beverages, grill hot dogs, and watch smile lines deepen upon each other’s faces by the flicker of firelight. I will retell the same seven stories I have always told, and I pray those friends of mine tell their versions because I love hearing them. We will laugh hard, live out some new jokes, and then laugh more. We will re-enact charades of each other from lives that seem so distant they're hardly ours any longer, and we will come up with new ones based on fresh shenanigans.
There will be a few treasured, solemn moments where, caught alone with one pal at a time, I will grasp a shoulder and tell each of them how important it is, how much it means to me, to see their face, their good health and hear their real and unguarded laughter, because I am sure that the opportunity is fleeting. I am sure these jolly festivities hang upon the feeblest stilts - those of life's circumstances, and there will eventually come a time when the warm feelings and back slapping will not happen. For those times, these memories are made.
The joy of seeing an old friend again is a deep, subliminal, substantial pleasantness, and when paired with a more immediate pleasure, such as food and drink, there is a compounding effect that creates a sensation we call "the good times." If you think about it, the good times are most often memories you share with other people. The memories stay good because they are positively reinforced by the relationships you share with those people, and they’re marinated by seeing each other, by retelling stories.
Spending time with friends, family, and new acquaintances allows you to connect and reconnect with people who add value to your life. Good friends will be tough on you, demand your best because they know what you have to offer. Good, new acquaintances will challenge your worldview, respectfully, in order to gauge the type of person you are. The more you speak your opinion, challenge viewpoints, and uphold your morals, the faster and more effectively you'll surround yourself with the types of friends who do the same -- the types of friends who will hold you up, pick you up, and put you back in the ring when you get knocked out. After all, the best part about a good friendship isn't knowing they've got your back, but that you've got theirs.
The annual call to get everyone together in one place, for no other purpose than to talk, play games, and eat, is a tradition worthy of repetition -- even if one silly disagreement still abounds. This week, be a good friend and reinforce the bonds you’ve built by getting out there, marinating a hotdog in ketchup, and maybe dancing your butt off.
“It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
See you out there,
A woodsman in training