Truth be told, I want to do things with the hot dog man. I’d like for it to happen at the end of his shift, after he’s done dumping hot dog water in the grass and wiping up the spilled ketchup and onion bits with his yellow sponge. I want to be there when he turns around, to see him see me and say, “You again?” I want to see his crowded mouth when he smiles, all those teeth overlapping, his pierced, wet tongue. I want to kiss the mouth of the hot dog man, tell him about the times when, as a girl, I’d come home from school to find my mother at the stove, making beans and hot dogs. Franks, my mother called them and I’d laugh and say, “But Frank’s a man’s name!” I want to ask the hot dog man, “Have you ever tried beans with hot dogs? Has your mother ever said to you, ‘Franks and beans, beans and franks, who’s hungry?’”
When the hot dog man says he’s out of hot dogs, when he tells me to come back tomorrow, I want to put my hand on his arm, look him straight in the eye, and say, “I’m not here for a hot dog, I’m here for you.” What I want to have happen, what I need for this Frank to do, is wipe his hands off on his apron, smile his teeth at me, and pull me in for a hug. I want to be crushed by the hot dog man, to call him Darling—not Frank, not just the hot dog man—until it’s time for us to move on to kissing and taking off our clothes right there in the park. Have I mentioned how I dream of pressing my face to the hot dog man’s shiny hair and letting it tickle my neck? I hear you telling me to turn around and go home, saying hot dogs are bad and so is talking to the hot dog man. The thing is, I’ve been thinking about him all summer, giving him my money and my attention, waiting for the day when I’d get up the nerve to go ahead and let him know how I feel.
Here he is now, the hot dog man, doing the things I knew he’d be doing, leaning down until his long hair touches the ground, picking up fallen buns, wiping down the cart, licking his lips, whistling a song I don’t know.
Here he is standing up, no longer whistling, opening his mouth, saying, “You again.”
My hand is on the hot dog man’s arm.
My face is in his hair.
I am clutching the canvas of his apron, pulling him in.