Richard Drew / Associated Press
Dear Mrs. Greunke,
I wanted to take a minute to thank you for sending your daughter to college with a 64-pack of mini hot dogs. You and I had yet to make each other’s acquaintance — heck, Wendy and I hadn’t even met when you felt compelled to put a box of adorably-sized, individually wrapped processed meats in with her luggage. Years later, I still think fondly of all sixty-six of you. (You, your daughter, and the 64 diminutive frankfurters.)
I know that hot dogs, regardless of size or number, isn’t the sort of thing a normal 18 year-old girl would get excited about, let alone recall fondly many years later as a grown woman not romantically linked with Takeru Kobayashi, six-time champion of Nathan’s Coney Island Hot Dog-Eating Contest. (Joey Chestnut can jam it.)
Those petite pigs-in-blankets were used to build a bridge of friendship between two very different girls. (Mind you, this is a metaphorical bridge. We didn’t literally stack them end to end between our twin beds — what would we have done with that comically large bottle of ketchup you sent?)
As your daughter no doubt informed you over the phone while I was away exploring the insane variety of breakfast cereals in the dining hall, Wendy and I didn’t appear at the outset to be perfectly matched roommates. Many people wondered if the beautiful, red-headed track star and the punk rock Jesus freak were going to get along.
I was busy pulling flannel shirts, Doc Marten’s and my “He is Risen” T-shirt collection from the lawn and leaf bags I’d packed for college when Wendy wandered in.
“Jesus,” she muttered.
“You like Him, too?” I asked.
We puttered around the room unpacking for a while, Wendy wondering what kind of church encourages mohawks, me wondering where best to keep my black lipstick collection — next to the Bible study guides, or on the table by Wendy’s 2-foot-tall plastic Budweiser bottle filled with change? A silence hung uncomfortably in the room. How would this ever work?
And then it happened.
“My mom got us these,” Wendy said, tossing the box of wee-ners on the settee. “Maybe they’re gross. Maybe you’re vegetarian? Anyway, they’re for both of us.”
“I’ve never seen weenies this teeny,” I said, picking one up.
“We’re going to be seeing a lot of them in college,” she said.
High fives ensued.
Wendy and I became fast friends, exploring college with all the wide-eyed enthusiasm you’d expect from a couple of intelligent young women thirsty for knowledge and Coors Light. We taught each other many things: jungle juice can be made in a laundry bucket filled with shower water and Kool-Aid, vomit is harder to find if the floor is covered in hay, 3-for-1 drink specials at K’s China actually means there are three shots in one glass.
Our friendship was one for the ages, filled with laughter and true kinship, none of it possible without that box of Costco dogs. So thank you for easing those first crucial minutes with the salve of food. Thank you for the 64 mini hot dogs.