July 30, 2008

Word to my mother, or The neutrality of nitrites

One of my summer jobs during the high school years was at a hospital clinic. I won't say where it was, but the city was at the time the teenage pregnancy capital of the nation. (Which made for some sweet t-shirts for the tourists.)

The best part of the job was that it yielded a very memorable phrase, uttered by a very large dude (he was a patient's relative, so what's the right term? customer? guest? client?) who was irate about having to wait for so long, or maybe it was a Medicaid billing issue or the utter lack of a functional air conditioner on a day when it was probably 100 degrees with 3000 percent humidity. Whatever. Anyway, after getting into it with one of the employees, he pounded his fist on the counter and yelled, "I'm tired of this shit-ass bullshit." (I added the hyphen.)

I'm sure I hadn't heard anyone else use that phrase before - and I haven't heard anyone other than myself and Howard say it since. It was beautiful.

That's a very long setup to get to the point, which is that the second best part of the job was that there was a hot dog cart about 30 steps away from the clinic's front door. (I can't swear that it was a Model 325, but it looked a lot like this one.)

This, of course, meant that when it was time for lunch, my only decisions was: One hot dog or two?

My mom was none too pleased with this seemingly unhealthful lunch diet. She said then, and has repeated numerous times since, that the nitrites from all of those weiners unquestionably stunted my growth. Her theory is that I deprived myself of the three or four inches in height that might have made it a cinch for me to make the high school basketball squad. Maybe she's right.

Or... OR!... maybe not. John Tierney, or as I like to call him, Saint John Tierney, has in today's NYT a list of 10 things that we might not need to worry so much about. One is the dietary properties of hot dogs. He dismisses the "nitrite scare" out of hand. And then goes on: "If you must worry, focus on the carbs in the bun. But when it comes to the fatty frank — or the fatty anything else on vacation — I’d relax."

There are other interesting tidbits, including the assertion that paper grocery bags are no better for the environment than plastic ones - I guess the optimist spin on that would be that plastic bags aren't as bad as we thought? - and that when it comes to saving gas while driving on the highway, no difference between using the a/c and opening the windows.

I'm more relaxed already. You?


bugs said...

TOTALLY more relaxed. phew. really.
and "howard and myself" v. "myself and howard," right, mr. grammar freak.
and, HOW DO YOU REMEMBER all this shit-ass bullshit? seriously?!
(were they good dogs?)
(you seem pretty good height to me - )

JBhumitra said...

i think the windows vs ac on the highway thing is interesting - i just read recently that if you open your windows while going at a fast speed, there is a drag effect on your car which causes increased gas expenditure - which of course, probably equates to the AC usage, depending on how high you crank it up and how much energy you use. i didnt know about the drag effect before so i thought this was good food for thought. i usually keep my windows closed on the freeway cuz i dont like breathing the exhaust. but im almost always cold so its a rare day when i use the AC anyway.