Happy 4th of July to all my American readers! Happily, I’m right on the brink of a four-day weekend after a short workday today, thanks to my new job. What’s on the agenda for my holiday time off?
First (and maybe foremost), some sleeping in! I love my new job, but a longer commute and earlier start time definitely creeps up on me and I’m embarrassed that Wednesday night feels like Friday and I just can’t wait to catch up on some sleep!!! As Astro, the family dog on the old Jetsons cartoon might say, ‘RI’m Rired Reorge.’ (Another testament to how tired I am right now is that I just shared that really goofy statement!)
In addition to some R&R, the Cooke family (minus Dan, who’s back down in Austin, TX) will be seeing friends in New Jersey who always fill our tummies with outrageously delicious food and our hearts with laughter and love. We’ll also be celebrating my dad’s 89th birthday in what’s become an annual tradition (if second time counts as one): Lunch at Pastrami ‘n Friends.
Most embarrassing of all, we will watch, as we do religiously every year, the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, Brooklyn, on ESPN TV July 4. Reigning champion Joey Chestnut (yes, that’s really his name) will be working to top his own record of 74 weiners in 10 minutes, when he took home the coveted ‘Mustard Belt’ for the 11th time last year.
I spend most of the time just about closing my eyes and looking through the hands over my face as it’s quite disgusting, in all honesty, to watch grown men and women shoving water-drenched, soggy hot dogs and buns down their throats. But they make a really big, hokey deal of it, with the announcer dramatically naming competitive eaters … people of every size and shape and often costumes … who hold their own records chowing down on everything from pizza, to crawfish, to Twinkies.
It’s all just so, well, Brooklyn! The massive crowd’s enthusiasm, despite typically sweltering weather conditions, is infectious too. It always brings back memories for my dad, who grew up in nearby Seagate. And I have my own childhood memories of eating my first Nathan’s hot dogs and signature, amazing crinkle-cut fries, along with my first (disgusting, at the time, I remember) sip of my dad’s draft beer … all inside a tiny restaurant that looked like a subway car.
So that’s it for now, unless you’ve been wondering about my happy news. I know I’ve ‘buried the lead’ here, maybe for modesty’s sake … but I wrote a story recently that they’ll be publishing in Long Island’s Newsday daily paper this Sunday, July 7, in a weekly column called ‘Expressway’ on the Op-Ed page I believe. I hope you can check it out. I will also plan to share a slightly longer, unedited version with more pics in a future blog.
In the meantime … HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY HOLIDAY WEEKEND!