Post-Fourth of July thoughts

"There’s a lot of tension this morning," the TV reporter announced on the recent Fourth of July morning.

Where was the tension? It wasn’t on the New York Stock Exchange’s floor. The markets were closed for the day. In fact, very few things were open for business on the country’s 235th birthday.

No, the reporter was talking about the tension at Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest on New York’s Coney Island. Apparently, every Fourth of July, competitors gather to stuff their faces with these so-called famous hot dogs within minutes. I still wonder where the infamous hot dogs reside. Just trying to imagine human beings attempting to swallow these things made me want to regurgitate my breakfast. The reporter was bantering with the anchors about a man named Joey Chestnut who seems to be a "the-guy-to-beat" at this contest. Last year was a bit of an off year for Chestnut: he downed only 54 hot dogs, but still walked away with the Mustard Belt due to a lack of competition. Yep, I can just feel my Grape Nuts ready to come back up as I write this entry.

I cannot understand why abusing one’s body is synonymous with a national holiday, but to quote the world-famous composer and one-time New Yorker, John Lennon, "Whatever gets you through the night." In this case, I would say, "Whatever gets you through the day" – which might be some Alka-Seltzer and Pepto Bismol for the hot dog eating contestants.

The contest is obviously big business for the hot dog giant, but why do we need another contest where something unhealthy is consumed in massive quantities? I’m sure there are competitions for something a bit healthier and I’m not talking about a tofu pup contest. I once witnessed my daughter in a watermelon-eating contest in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. I liked that one, but where’s the Chiquita Banana-Eating Contest? Or the Dole Pineapple Consumption Competition? Perhaps those contests do exist, but they don’t get the attention that Nathan’s contest receives.

It was a bit saner around these parts. I enjoyed nearby Norcross’ fireworks. Each year the throngs enjoy the patriotic atmosphere filled with great music, food, fireworks and of course, interesting booths set up on the streets. The crowd seemed a bit thinner this year since we had a four-day weekend which inspires folks to get out of town.

We metro Atlantans get a little cabin fever at this point in the summer by staying indoors to beat the heat. The fireworks display and several other outdoor evening events are a great way to re-connect with friends and neighbors. I ran into some really nice folks who I didn’t expect to see there. I love a good surprise.

As far as holidays go, the Fourth of July is it until Labor Day and I’m grateful because the stores don’t have a promotional push for that day. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter quickly sneak up on us. The mattress stores somehow claimed President’s Day. But, there’s lonely Labor Day which is duly noted with picnics, but it really doesn’t have its own celebratory angle. Perhaps there could be a Trader Joe’s Kiwi Fruit-Eating Contest on that September day?


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