About this time last year, the hubs and I brought our boys to an open house at our local fire station. It’s a really fun event that the fire fighters hold every few months. Along with all of the free food, games, tours of fire trucks, and other fun things to do, each kid—and some adults whose childhood dreams of becoming fire fighters didn’t quite pan out—gets to spray the really big hose.
As my older son and I waited in line for his turn to spray the hose, I watched my husband on the other side of the station. He was standing with my younger son in front of the long table that had been set up to hold the food, but he wasn’t paying much attention to our boy, who was diligently working his way through all of the icing on the free cupcakes—and then putting the cake part back for the next person.
No, my husband wasn’t paying attention to that, because he was busy: In the 30 seconds that my eyes rested on him, I witnessed him snarf two hot dogs, fully loaded with all the fixings.
About three-quarters of the way through the second, I saw him notice the fire fighters behind the table giving him the eyeball. They were trying to be polite about it, but it wasn’t hard to see that just under the surface of their small, strained smiles, their expressions were hard.
I believe the hubs and I realized at exactly the same time why they were looking at him like that: There was a huge donations jar sitting front and center on the food table—right next to the crock pot of chili that the hubs had plowed through when making his dogs—for those who felt so inclined as they enjoyed the food that the fire fighters had worked so hard to put together.
I watched in horror as the hubs made eye contact with each fire fighter in turn as he made a huge production—like Francis Ford Coppola style—of retrieving his wallet from his back pocket.
Up until that very moment, I hadn’t known it was possible to do things in slow motion in real life, but somehow, this motherfcker did it. He swung that wallet around, rotating it over his head, swooping it between his legs, smiling crazily as the hand that wasn’t holding the flailing thing moved ever so slowly…dramatically…to open the wallet…
…and pull out a one-dollar bill.
A fcking dollar, you guys.
It reminded me of the time I was in my alcoholic phase just after college and went to the casino with some friends because I’d heard that they served free drinks if you gambled.
I gathered up about 500 pennies from between the couch cushions of my apartment and then planted myself at one of the penny slots at the bar of the casino, my sandwich bag of pennies almost bursting at the seams next to me.
I played my pennies one at a time, taking a break every 15 minutes or so to belly up to the bar, where the poor bartender had no choice but to serve me my free rum and cokes.
I remember about the 3rd rum and coke in, I reached into my pocket and pulled out a tip. When I handed it to him, though, he wasn’t as happy as I’d thought he would be.
“A quarter,” he said, dropping everything so he could hold it up for all of the other gambling heathens at the bar to see. “A whole quarter.”
At first I was mortified, but then I just got mad. Because if the drinks were as strong as he was supposed to be making them, then 3 rum and cokes should have erased all feelings of shame about anything—especially something as trivial as leaving a miniscule tip, right?
He deserved that shitty tip for the weak drinks he was making, I reckoned.
[Author’s note: I’m a mature and responsible adult now, and I know that leaving a small tip is a total a-hole thing to do. I’m a good tipper now. But back then, if I wasn’t waking up in some random stranger’s apartment wearing nothing but nipple clamps, then really, I was doing pretty well. So compared to that, leaving someone a shitty tip was small beans and, after a few drinks, nothing to be ashamed about.]
Anyway, back at the fire station as this memory flashed through my mind, I found myself thinking, Damn, hubs, if you’re going to be all dramatic about it and make sure they see you leaving a donation, then leave a $5. Or at least one of those $2 bills that aren’t in circulation anymore and people think are kind of cool.
But not a goddamned dollar.
And it seemed that that one dollar bill had bought my husband a sense of entitlement that not even the teenaged kids of the richest moguls in the world have experienced because then, THEN, after my husband stuck the dollar into the jar, he proceed to build himself 3 more giant chili dogs with the works “to go.” There was so much food on his paper plate that I saw it bowing in the middle.
I was stuck, peeps. I couldn’t do anything about it because I didn’t want to lose my place in line. My son had been waiting 15 minutes for his turn at the hose and I wasn’t about to give up our spot so that I could grab my overeating husband and pull him away from the dawgs.
Finally, my son got his turn spraying the hose. I snapped a few pictures, thanked the fire fighter in charge, and then turned to get the hubs.
“Hey,” he whispered out of the side of his mouth when I caught up with him at the food table. He was wearing his proud expression, the one he wears when he thinks he’s gotten away with something that has saved him a bunch of money. “My stomach hurts really bad because I’ve just eaten a shitload of chili dogs. But stand here for a minute while I try to get one more down. Then I can make room on my plate to take another one home. “
I grabbed the hubs and dragged him out of the fire station by the elbow with promises that we’d make our own chili cheese dogs when we got home. I made sure to wave cheerfully at all of the fire fighters, saying “Thank you!” while making my “I’m so sorry” face and shaking my head.
I think they understood.
If the hubs’s puking out of the passenger side window on the way home was any indication, he was kinda sick of chili cheese dogs by the time we got home. So I didn’t make them that night. But I put them on the menu for a time in the future.
And one fall evening when I had just returned home from work and was too tired to make anything fanc-ay, I served up some chili cheese dogs.
And dammit if they weren't effing delicious. And just about the easiest things you could possibly make—that is, if you use the canned chili like we do.
Try not to eat too many, because they’re the kind of food that might make you shit yourself while simultaneously gaining 5 pounds, you know? But they are good, and they’re way easy in a pinch—and really inexpensive, to boot. This was my tightwad hubs’s quote the night I made them:
“This whole meal fed all four of us with plenty to spare, and it only cost like $3.50…well, $2.75 if you don’t count the package of unused hot dogs.”
Our eyes had been bigger than our stomachs at the store, you see, and we’d bought several packs of the 75 cent Aldi hot dogs.
I have told you guys before that I used to write a newsletter for one of my moms’ groups. It was a voluntary position that I didn’t really want to do but somehow got harassed into it. The newsletter always included a recipe, and this is where I’d add something like this:
“And you guys are paying me for this bullshit? Oh, wait. No you’re not. So suck it.”
So without further ado, the recipe. I do believe that, in lieu of listing the actual ingredients and steps, my photo collage can speak for itself.
In regards to the shitty quality of the pics, remember how I said that this whole incident took place last year? It might have even been the year before, because back then I was still using my digital camera. And we've gotten two new laptops since then and I can't find the slot for the memory card in this one, nor can I find the wire thing that I can plug into the camera and the laptop in order to transfer pictures from one place to the other. When I asked my husband to help me, he said that he has shown me how to do this 700 times, and if I wanted his help for the 701st time, I'd have to wait until after his nap. Instead, I decided to be resourceful, and I used my phone to take pictures of the digital camera's display screen and then transfer them onto here, which is the only way I know to do it.
Screw my husband.
You were expecting more professional pics, readers? Where do you think you are, The Pioneer Woman's blog?
A picture of the magic happening
You wouldn’t think you could eff this “recipe” up…but I burned the chili while focusing on getting the perfect angle for the pic above. Luckily the chili is delicious so it didn’t matter…but perhaps I should consider using some of the zero dollars I make from this blog in order to hire a photographer, no?
Notice the 350-lb. industrial sized bag of cheese in the background. It’s been my experience that if you sprinkle assloads of it on anything, even the pickiest of palates will enjoy it. Just another helpful culinary tip.
You think I'm kidding with the canned chili? Remember, these recipes were originally written for busy moms and dads, and I have stuck with that theme both in my household and in my recipe writing. I always tell my family, "You guys are so lucky to have me..." But seriously, this canned chili is damn good and probably better than anything I could whip up in the crockpot.
**In the time that has passed since I began adding chili cheese dogs to my monthly fall rotation, I have found other types of chili that my family loves, our favorite being this 4 Star Beef Chili brick. I swear that it tastes like the same type of chili they use in chili cheese burritos (plus sour cream) from Taco Bell, which is one of the greatest creations known to man. So give it a shot! Just follow the directions on the back of the brick.**