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Hot Dog

I like to think of myself as a fairly cultured guy. While I’m certainly not an expert, I can enjoy the fine arts with a degree of intellectual stimulation and have at least a decent amount of knowledge on things like history, culture and literature, and even more appreciation than knowledge in those things.

So what does it tell you that one of my favorite foods to eat is the noble hot dog? What could be simpler…or more delicious? Yes, I am well aware that the ordinary frankfurter is not one of the more nutritional foods but the sausage that is going into hot dogs is becoming a bit more artisanal these days, with better cuts of meat and more adventurous spices going into the sausage.

I also enjoy watching professional wrestling, particularly that of TNA or Total Nonstop Action (yes, I grew up on the WWE but I have a thing about rooting for the underdog). I look at it like a testosterone soap opera; the storylines are about good versus evil, and more often than not have a certain cathartic element to them. While I admire the athleticism of pro wrestlers (and the physical attributes of the female wrestlers, called “knockouts” in TNA) I believe that pro wrestling is at its best when it is at its most cathartic.

Pro wrestling and hot dogs; some would call those things low brow. Some might even call them guilty pleasures. To my mind, they are part of my own cultural landscape, perhaps not to the same level as Shakespeare and Mozart but nonetheless a valid measuring stick of who I am. To know me, you must understand that these are parts of my nature.

We all have these things that are part of who we are, something that on the surface seems wildly uncharacteristic, out of step with the rest of our nature. In my opinion, these are the things that add a little bit more sizzle to the steak. These contradictory aspects of our personality are very often what make us interesting.

I have a female friend whose name I won’t use at her request (we discussed my telling of her story before I wrote this); she is a wife and mother with children who are entering their high school years. She has been a stay-at-home mom since the birth of her first child, although she has worked part-time from time to time. Now that her kids are old enough to be left at home by themselves, she is re-entering the job market. On the surface, she is stable, nurturing and a bit on the conservative side (although her politics are actually quite moderate).

A couple of years ago, she decided to take some exercise classes to augment her gym time; she was, like many women her age, concerned with her physical fitness and wanted to take steps to keep herself in better shape. Most of the traditional aerobics and exercise classes that her gym offered were either full or at inconvenient times; a friend of hers had recommended a pole dancing class as an alternative. Intrigued, she decided to take the class on a whim.

She found that she loved the physical aspect of the dance and enjoyed the class immensely. The class got her thinking, however, about the entire exotic dancing thing. She has become interested in learning more about it and has confessed to me that she has often thought about stripping herself, although she hasn’t yet worked up the courage to do it.

So you have a respectable wife and mother, a pillar of her community who happens to have a yen to do some exotic dancing. Some might judge her and think poorly of her because of this curiosity on her part. First of all, I have to admire her for telling me this somewhat unconventional desire on her part which she sometimes feels awkward talking about with her own husband. That takes a bit of courage in my book.

I also happen to think there’s nothing wrong with a desire to express that part of her. She may never get up on a stage and strip her clothes off, but because she wonders what the experience might be like doesn’t make her any worse a person. In fact, to my mind, I think that it’s healthy to have the ability to express her sexuality. Unfortunately, society doesn’t necessarily agree.

Now, while I am willing to admit that having a fondness for professional wrestling and a curiosity about taking your clothes off in a gentleman’s club are two completely different things, they are actually not that far off when you think about them as components of the overall pictures that are our personalities. And, while I use my friend as an example, nearly everyone I know has something about their personalities that come out of left field; a very manly sort of guy who has a soft spot for kittens; a software analyst who loves scrapbooking; a medical professional who’s a comic book junkie.

These are the things that keep us guessing about human nature and are an indicator that we may never understand it ourselves. Personally, I think that’s a good thing; part of what keeps life interesting is that we learn something new about ourselves every day. Who we are is an ever-evolving process that defies easy categorization. We are far too complex to have simple labels affixed to our foreheads.

Yet we seem hell-bent on putting those labels on others. It is often easier to reduce people to categories; makes it easy to form an opinion about them. One of life’s great delights is to get to know someone thoroughly. As you are admitted into the various strata of their personalities, often you find out amazing, delightful and charming aspects to them. It’s like being given a key to a castle and behind every door discovering amazing treasures.

Most of the time, I like to keep my mind sharp on the higher aspects of life; art, literature, human nature, relationships. However, there are days where I’m happier than a pig in slop to plop myself down into the Impact zone, watch Matt Morgan kick some jabroni’s ass and get myself a dog with the works. After all, isn’t the definition of Zen to “make me one with everything”?


3 Responses

  1. Well said. Labeling is disabling! I know I have The Simpsons, and NBA basketball as my ‘guilty’ duo.

  2. Caution! Increment weather on this webpage.

  3. Yeah– nicely said. We are all complex, changing and multidimensional. I am a school administrator who is obsessed with indie music and enjoys shooting at propane tanks! Its all good 🙂

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