Sunday, June 03, 2007

Wiener arithmetic from the lowest common denominator

It’s been sixteen years since Steve Martin made his daring exposé of the wiener industry in the movie “Father of the Bride,” but still we’ve made alarmingly little progress in our wiener-related pursuits since. My wife Kara and I were doing our Memorial Day duties last weekend by buying hot dogs, which come in packs of ten, and buns, which, infuriatingly to those of us who have little to no perspective on what’s actually worth getting angry about in life, come in packs of eight.

Steve Martin’s famous grocery store tirade went like this: “I'll tell you what I'm doing. I want to buy eight hot dogs and eight hot dog buns to go with them. But no one sells eight hot dog buns. They only sell twelve hot dog buns. So I end up paying for four buns I don't need. So I am removing the superfluous buns. Yeah. And you want to know why? Because some big-shot over at the wiener company got together with some big-shot over at the bun company and decided to rip off the American public.”

This scene came out way back in the time when gas was cheap and rock stars were androgynous, but we’re still being ripped off. In the interim, the bun makers have apparently acquiesced, removing the four superfluous buns, but in a cruel twist, the hot dogs folks added two more dogs. All this bun-and-wiener shuffling accomplished was raising the least common multiple of wieners and buns from 24 to 40. Also, I hope my third grade math teacher reads this. I think she’d be proud that I took a break from rolling booger balls out of rubber cement long enough to retain something she taught us other than “rulers are meant for measuring, not swashbuckling,” though I still think she was looking at me just a little too much during the unit on lowest common denominators.

Kara and I have enough trouble feeding ourselves without food companies making us remember our multiplication tables. Every night, we sit around at dinnertime staring at each other, seeing who will crack first and just pour a bowl of cereal. Kara will invariably say something like this: “We should just go and buy stuff to make a salad.” How this addresses the issue of dinner is still rather unclear.

My buddy Gimp eats steamed vegetables and rice for dinner every single night. I’m not sure how he has enough strength left to answer the phone when I call, but the point is that he never deviates from the one meal he likes to cook. Actually, most of my guy friends eat the same thing every single day, just like I did before Kara came along and started rocking the culinary boat until Mama Celeste fell overboard.

It’s against the natural order of the world to eat different things every day. Cavemen, back before they started selling insurance and going all metrosexual, didn’t complain about not having a varied menu to eat every day.

I bet you’d never hear a caveman say, “Aw, man, gazelle again?”

It probably went more like this: “Sweet merciful heavens -- gazelle again! I can’t believe our good fortune to have something to eat day after day. I hope we never run out of gazelle. Also, I hope someone invents toilet paper soon.”

I’m lucky I don’t have to catch my food out in the wild. Here’s how good my instincts are: when I’m walking around the house in the dark and I see a shape on the floor that is either a leaf or a “present” from our ferret, I poke it to find out which it is. Someone who does that could probably find a way to get eaten by a woodchuck.

You can tell Mike Todd that a salad is a meal online at


  1. Speaking of hot dog math... I have to have 7 Snack Size Twizzlers every night. Snack size. They only come out at Halloween and Valentine's Day and they are NOT the kind Wal-mart purports to be snack sized as theirs are one gross strand. I asked Hershey's to hook me up and they said, "Can't. What else can we help you with today?" Therefore I shop a 60 mile radius during the aforementioned holidays and pay people to buy them for me as well. And once I ate these sacred sweets while watching Father of the Bride, so there's your connection, buddy. 'course, if I dropped a Twizzler at your house, you'd probably have to poke it with your 'leaf test', now wouldn't you?

    BTW, if you could delete this comment, my post-sugar-rush embarrassment will be lessened greatly. Thanks.

  2. We buy those buns that you can fry in butta'? And there's only SIX of those in a pack. So, everything is totally shot to hell if you have 10 weiners...

    I want to throw it all in the trash and go to DQ.

  3. Androgynous and superfluous buns. Creepy.

    I used to have Steve Martin's Wild and Crazy Guy album. That was back when he was funny; remember? the arrow thru his head? ha.

    (I cringe thinking of how many times we made someone sit down with us and listen to it.)

  4. i before e
    except after c
    or when sounding like a
    as in neighbor and weigh

    Could I have a beer and a red hot WEIGHNER?

    Want to listen to a funny ALBUM?

  5. Busterp--

    Is that the album where he'd say the only thing you learn in Spanish class is "Donde esta la casa de Pepe?" Or something like that? Anyway, that's pretty much the extent of my Spanish and it was from Steve Martin, not the class I took.

  6. Janelle: (like the colon?)

    Quizá. No recuerdo si es aquél.

    I only remember the Cat Handcuffs and King Tut. I'll have to dig it up and listen to it again.

    I took Spanish in college. I can count to 10 (in Spanish). I had to babel fish the above expression. You know more Spanish than me.

  7. Janelle -- I could never delete your Twizzling. And if I see any of the snack size mofos around, I'll holler your way. Seven every night? Is that the candy equivalent of counting all the tiles in the bathroom? I have a buddy who does stuff like that.

    melodyann -- Maybe DQ has the same problem. Like, do they have to throw out 700 hot dogs every day 'cause they're out of buns? If so, they should fire whoever's ordering them.

    Buster -- Thanks for catching the misspell. You'd think I'd get that word right, what with my being called a wiener for my whole life and everything. Also, the colon is okay, but it's missing that certain je nais something something that the prostate has going for it, don't you think?

    Gracias para being cool, y'all. Palabra arriba.

  8. i like weiners with no bun so i am the best person to invite to your bbq. when is it? i'm on the way!

  9. I always eat my last 2 hotdogs without buns to make it even :)

  10. Mike-
    Don't go all Rainman on my candy. 7, or okay, sometimes 12, is the right place between wanting one more and Twizbloat. Moderation, you see.

    Busterp- I sort of think the lack of Martin's King Tut in current culture is all that's wrong with the world. And I did enjoy your colon, though I promise this is the first time those words have spun off my keyboard.

  11. Dude,

    It's completely unclear why you're of the opinion that the invention of toilet paper was a good thing.

  12. nita -- Dude, you just solved the riddle! The wiener people are counting on the Atkins people to even it all out. And yes, you're totally invited.

    m -- Nicely done. That's almost a good solution, but it doesn't leave anything to whine about.

    Janelle -- Definitely boxer shorts. Definitely. Twizbloat: that's funny. And I agree that Buster's colon is quite a thing to behold.

    Anon -- I think I just figured out who you are! Hint: All you wanna do? Have some fun. With Lance Armstrong. Am I getting close?

  13. Mike,

    I'm the Anon. You don't know me.

    Funnily, that's not redundant. :)

    I know of you through a fan of your columns whom you may or may not know.

    So, no - with the Armstrong, Louis, Lance, whatever - you aren't close.