A hot dog lasts forever
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
My car and I got to know each other pretty well this past weekend as I spent eight hours driving across Iowa and Minnesota on Friday and eight-and-a-half hours driving the same route back on Sunday. In between the drives, I attended a college friend’s wedding in Duluth, Minn.
After spending Friday night at a friend’s house, I had a couple of hours to kill on Saturday morning while she went horseback riding. I decided to go explore my old college stomping grounds of Superior, Wis., as I had not been there since graduation.
Thus, I got to experience that strange, eerie feeling that one gets when they return somewhere they haven’t been in awhile and that they remember from their childhood. Granted, I only left campus a year and a half ago, so it wasn’t quite as drastic, but it was still strange to be back.
For one thing, campus was physically different. They were undergoing major construction projects during my time there, and those are now all complete. The new student union, completed my last semester on campus, is now open. The old student union no longer exists, and in its place they are making a parking lot. The new academic building is now complete. They changed the name of the health center. The old, discolored green picnic tables have been replaced with school-spirited black and gold ones.
My mind catalogued all these changes as I walked around the small campus. They created a sense of things being slightly off. Adding to the eerie feeling was that it was 10 a.m. on a Saturday during the summer, so campus was pretty much a ghost town.
In spite of the jarring differences, I still felt at home. I could almost feel the backpack strap slung over my shoulder, tight with the weight of those eight-pound English anthologies I used to carry around with me at all times and that are now gathering dust on a bookshelf in my apartment.
There were, thankfully, many things that stayed the same. The clock on campus is still about five minutes off. The science professor’s car was still parked outside of her lab (I swear that woman never leaves campus). Most notably, though — and the reason I wanted to head back to campus — was the status of the corn dog.
The first week of my freshman year, somebody smuggled a corn dog out of the cafeteria and stuck it on the bottom edge of the pedestrian crossing sign outside of the co-ed dorms. Not many people noticed it unless somebody pointed it out to them, and people were careful not to tell anybody who might take it down. Over time, we watched the corn shell be eaten away and the hot dog center turn into a blackened crisp. I’m guessing the sun beating down on the metal sign worked as a sort of oven.
That corn dog was still there when I left campus, and sure enough it was still there when I returned last week. As disgusting as it is, I was happy that it is still there after almost five years.
In some way, this corn dog seemed symbolic of my time on campus and the time spent with my friends at the wedding. The outward appearances of a place may change, but the memories you made there remain. And even though people may come and go out of your life, it’s nice to know that some things, like a hot dog, last forever.