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Hot Dog Man



Joined: 11/3/2010
Posts: 206
sullysolipsism
The hotdog man doesn’t know what he’s doing.

He stares at me when I place my order, and then looks up at his stand, all the little cubbyholes and pockets filled with ketchup and mustard and mayo and relish, like a skyscraper with too many windows. It’s the big kind of stand, where the vendor stands in front and not behind. His eyes are like an abused animal’s as he reaches indecisively towards a half-empty ketchup bottle, and then jerkily pulls his fingers back against the safety of his tattered Giants jacket.

The world is passing us by in a vague smudge of business suits and car exhaust and blaring bebop music, and he can’t choose which of the half-a-dozen ketchup bottles to use.

But I’m not in a rush.

I look at his teeth as he bites his lip uncertainly. The world could use more yellow: more sunshine, more lemon-drops, more daffodils. But not teeth. The world could use more yellow, but his teeth could use more Trident gum and Crest whitening strips. His ragged nails could use a manicure. His jaundiced skin could use a few days in a Swedish spa.

Drug-addict? Alcoholic? Homeless? Convict? All of the above?

The world is flurrying by in a biting New York wind that tastes like sulfur and snowflakes and cold November days and warm hot chocolate, and the hotdog man has taken thirty seconds to choose a bottle of ketchup.

I watch as orphaned leaves scamper wildly along the sidewalk cracks. They’ll never find their way home. Central Park is a long way off. I watch as, across the street, a light goes out in an apartment window. All that’s left is a gaping hole, a toothless mouth, in the wall of the apartment complex. I think someday the light is going to go out in the hotdog man’s mouth too, leaving nothing but pink gums and pink tongue. The door to the organic smoothie shop bumps open as a woman with her arms full rushes out. Full of what? I can’t see, but it’s brown and green and covered in tiny golden stars. I imagine I can hear the tinkle of the bell as the door swings shut, but I can’t. The hotdog stand is in front of an intersection, and a stampede of bellowing yellow taxis dominates the audio track. The world could use more yellow, but not teeth and taxis.

The world is shuffling by in blunted stilettos and 50% off Nike sneakers and boxy leather Oxfords, and the hotdog man is indecisive. He’s forgotten my order. I can tell. But he doesn’t want to ask again, so he stews in his own discomfort. If the world were a stew, he would be the carrots and celery and I would be the meat and potatoes. Him in his tattered Giants jacket, and me in my slick business suit.

He squirts a dotted yellow dividing line of mustard down the hotdog’s swollen body. Good . . . good . . . good . . . too much. A glob like a fat slug slides down the curving, sweaty slope and nestles against the bun. Kisses the bun, like the two men kissing in the shadow of the hotdog stand.

The world could use more yellow, but not teeth and taxis and mustard. I’ve decided that the world has just enough yellow as it is. And the hotdog man? Well, he doesn’t know what he’s doing. He hands me my hotdog. Too much mustard. Not enough ketchup. No relish.

I thank him and pay him and leave.

And he shows me his teeth in a sunshine smile.


* * *

This is a work of fiction.
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Comment by pgarbero


Joined: 10/19/2010
Posts: 44
You are a very good fiction writer. You should try to submit some of your work to literary magazines. It would look great on a college resume being a published writer.

Some good magazines to submit to are:

http://thereader.org.uk/publications/the-reader/

http://www.fictioninc.com/submissions/

http://www.themysteryplace.com/ahmm/guidelines/

http://www.kenyonreview.org/

Good Luck!


Posted: Sunday, February 6, 2011 9:21:05 PM
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Comment by sullysolipsism


Joined: 11/3/2010
Posts: 206
Thanks so much! I've checked out all the sites you listed and they look great; I can't wait to try submitting (I've never really tried before . . . )!
Posted: Monday, February 7, 2011 3:25:22 PM
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Comment by jenniferjoe213


Joined: 5/5/2011
Posts: 4
I love this story, it's really funny. I love how you can turn something so ordinary and boring into something really clever and intresting! Favorite part was when you were talking about yellow and how we could use more sunshine expcept taxis and yellow teeth. I really enjoyed this story of the Hot Dog Man. This is true where you run into people who don't know what they are doing.
Posted: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 5:51:29 PM
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Comment by mynameisASHley


Joined: 10/8/2010
Posts: 26
Hey!! i was just wondering if you didnt mind helping me out with something. I have recently been added as a featured teen blogger. Now that i am one, what do i do?? I have no idea how to start my own blog!! I am so lost. I am still writing on stage of life, but I have no idea what to do to further myself as a teen blogger!! Thanks for your help!!
Posted: Thursday, July 28, 2011 6:07:06 PM
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Comment by sullysolipsism


Joined: 11/3/2010
Posts: 206
Hi, Ashley! I'm so sorry I didn't get back to you sooner! I've been vacationing around the country (and for three weeks out of the country!) practically all summer and I just now got your message. Hmmm . . . feature writing?

Honestly, the beauty of blogging is that you can write about whatever you feel like, and the beauty of Stage of Life is that you are speaking almost expressly to your own peers, people who understand and undergo the same things as you - in this case, fellow teenagers. I like to write about "big" things, per se, or things that are happening to almost everyone at a given time. For example, back-to-school or prom or parent trouble. But you could also choose to delve into specifics. Or you could tie in your blog to the current Stage of Life High School contest, which I feel can lend a cohesiveness to the website: wherever the visitor clicks s/he can see the same theme building every month.

I'm sure you'll do great and I can't wait to read your blogs! I hope I was able to help, and hit me up if you have any more questions. I think I'm a fairly new "featured writer" as well. What I personally do (and I don't recommend this at all), is I usually forget all about the blog (not intentionally) and then the day of or a day or two beforehand I suddenly remember that I need to write a blog and send it in to Eric/Megan ASAP.

Then I freak out and steal my mom's laptop and make myself sit still and just write for twenty minutes. I write the first thing that's on my mind, proof read, proof read again, and then send it in. I work best under pressure, but I think I need to set up some sort of schedule so I start thinking about my blog a week before it's due or something, you know? ;) Might make my life a little less hectic . . .

Anyway, figure out your own "thing." Again, I can't wait to read your blogs! :)
Posted: Sunday, August 7, 2011 12:05:47 AM
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Comment by mynameisASHley


Joined: 10/8/2010
Posts: 26
Thanks sooo much!! I'm kinda understanding this now!! Sorry. I didn't realize you had replied back on your blog, it never showed up in my email or anything!! Thanks again.. it was a big help!! By the way, I read your blog about your trip. It sounds like you had loads of fun!! My sister, 13, gets those letters all the time, but my parents just rip them up and throw them out. Okay, now to start my own blog.. all I do is go on blogspot.com and it's totally free and everything? That's the only part that I'm afraid of, I want to be an English teacher and I would like to start writing now, but I have no money to waste trying to make my own blog. Thanks!!

Posted: Sunday, August 7, 2011 12:58:53 PM
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Comment by sullysolipsism


Joined: 11/3/2010
Posts: 206
Yeah, BlogSpot is great. I think you need a Google email account, though. And just as a tip, for some reason they'll keep asking you for your phone number, but DON'T give it to them. I never entered a phone number and I'm fine. To be honest, I forget if I kept bypassing it or what, but I never gave a number and my BlogSpot is up and running just fine.

You'll make a great English teacher! I wish I had the patience to deal with kids all day. I give you props. ;)
Posted: Sunday, August 7, 2011 2:26:14 PM
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Comment by mynameisASHley


Joined: 10/8/2010
Posts: 26
Thanks soooo much!! This really helped!! And thanks, I'm the oldest of 6 so I'm used to alot if kids!
Posted: Thursday, August 11, 2011 1:54:41 PM
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Comment by Guest


Joined: 10/30/2008
Posts: 2,760
That's a sharp way of thninikg about it.
Posted: Monday, January 2, 2012 4:55:44 AM
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