“What would you like on your dog?” Cheryl, the teenage waitress asked.
“I think we need more time,” I said with a smile ten minutes later.
“Let me know when you’ve decided,” she said then blew a pink bubble of gum and walked away.
I listened to the commotion as many voices tried to be heard simultaneously.
“You must use fresh green onions!”
“The dog must be grilled. Not boiled.”
“The relish must be made fresh daily.”
“Only sport peppers can be added, and they must be placed on top.”
“The cheese needs to be shredded.”
“The onions need to be grilled.”
“If I ever see another bun with poppy seeds, I will shoot you.”
“The chili must not contain beans.”
“Tomatillos are a necessity.”
“I will never sell a dog that is not all beef.”
“Sauerkraut and goat cheese.”
“The chili must be made with dark red kidney beans.”
“I chop my cilantro into a fine mix and add avocado.”
“Mac and cheese with bacon.”
“I only add American yellow mustard to my dogs.”
“No, it has to be Dijon.”
“It must be spicy!”
“The mustard must include horseradish.”
“Personally, I prefer ketchup on my dogs,” Babe Drexler said with a shrug.
The immediate silence was heard throughout the restaurant, up and down the block, all the way across the city to the western suburbs and across the lake all the way to New York’s Manhattan island.
“What? No one likes ketchup?” he asked.
The two security guards placed him in handcuffs and escorted him from the premises.
Everyone looked at me.
“So, Portillo, what do you suggest?”
I took a deep breath, stood up and looked at the hardened faces around the table.
“Can we at least agree there will always be differences of opinion as to what should be permitted as toppings?” I asked looking at the guys and one lady around the table.
Giovanni Passero stared at Mo Beman. Beman turned and stared at George Wolfy. Gene Judd developed a sudden intense interest in the week-old newspaper on the table. Lulu Leavitt checked her nail polish. Fred Jacks sipped his ice cold Coke. Fat Tommy O’Malley took a long drink from his bottle of Pepsi. Nathaniel Handtverker looked at me and shook his head.
Joe LaRose returned from the restroom and took his seat again. “Did I miss anything? Did everyone order? If so, I’d like a burger and fries. Extra ketchup on the side.”