Dog House Hot Dogs
I was halfway through the fifth hot dog when the nausea began to set in. The heat was unbearable — pushing 90 degrees in a parking lot just off Milpas. I hadn’t eaten all day in hopes of leaving my stomach race-ready for the first annual hot-dog-eating contest at the Doghouse, and now my mind was swimming in the brutal July sun, lost in a sea of cheap keg beer and orange and brown balloons. There was a kid to my left — probably half my age — still struggling to finish his first wiener. To my right was some guy named Jesse, just in from San Francisco via Cape Cod, sweating his way fast and furious through dog number four. I heard the emcee call out, “Eight minutes!” and I munched on, each chew a simultaneous attempt to stuff more pig product down my gullet while resisting the urge to projectile vomit.
The crowd cheered, cameras clicked, and a wiener dog in a hot-dog costume danced across the table. Sneaking a look to my left I saw Mike — the hooded-sweatshirt-clad ringer from Oklahoma — and knew instantly I had no chance of winning of this thing; his cafeteria tray that was originally full of hot dogs was nearly empty. Even more demoralizing was the dude next to him, happily cramming a skull-sized pile of mashed-up hot-dog buns soaked in Rockstar juice into his face with no actual wieners in sight. I remembered high school track and the significance of personal bests and pushed on into dog number six. After all, it was Fourth of July weekend: the sun was out, the beer was cold, and the hot-dog supply was endless — at least for another two minutes. God Bless America!
— Ethan Stewart