My daughter Alison sent me an article with this headline: Oscar Mayer Wienermobile pulled over in Waukesha County.
When the girls were little, they used to love for me to sing them the "Oscar Mayer Weiner Song."
Oh...I wish I was an Oscar Mayer wiener, that is what I really want to be..ee...ee; and if I was an Oscar Mayer wiener, everyone would fall in love with me.
And then I would tell them that our next car was going to be the Wienermobile. And I would take them to all 48 states in it.
They loved it. They'd even beg me to sing the song for their little friends.
Until they didn't.
I still ponder how singing that little ditty went from being the "funnest thing to do"... to suddenly being...well... NOT the thing to do.
As my daughters entered their teenage years, and we began the battles associated with that stage of life, I tried to stay a step ahead of them. How could I still keep them safe despite the fact that my authority was slipping away? That was when I discovered that I could sometimes get them to do what I wanted them to do by threating to embarrass them in front of everyone. Although no one said it out loud, we all knew that the nuclear option was for me to sing the Oscar Mayer Wiener Song in a public setting. For whatever reason, they mostly behaved through those rocky years.
Now that they are adults, and not so easily embarrassed, one or the other will occasionally mention the subject. One year they bought me a toy Wienermobile for Christmas. They also will periodically send me news items.
And so it was that Alison sent me the news item about the Wienermobile running afoul of the police. Evidently, even a gigantic hot dog must obey Wisconsin's "Move Over" law. Being a wayfaring wiener does not give you the right of way if officers in an emergency vehicle are trying to do their job.
On the day Alison sent me this little news gem, I was feeling the insanity of life, and it seemed a great excuse to procrastinate from my 'to do' list. And so I decided to chase down Wienermobiles on the internet.
The first thing I discovered is that Oscar Mayer is now hiring its 2020 class of Wienermobile drivers, known as "Hotdoggers." I was planning on writing my novel when I retired in July. But...perhaps I should reconsider my retirement goals. I'm thinking that my grandchildren would just love it if they could boast that their Grandpa drives the Wienermobile. But then I remembered how quickly my daughters outgrew that joy...and I don't think it could take it if my grandchildren started acting like they didn't know me.
And so, I read on. The first Wienermobile appeared in 1936, created by Oscar's nephew, Carl. Apparently fuel rationing kept the vehicle off the road during World War II, although I hear that there was meat rationing back then too. So maybe it was okay to NOT tempt Americans with more hot dogs in those days.
The mobile evolved through the years, and in 1988 (when my kids were four and six) the "Hotdogger" program began. Oscar Mayer hired recent college graduates to drive the Wienermobiles around the country, and even abroad.
Unlike the silly old men who sing about it, it turns out that the Wienermobile grew longer as the years went by. By 1995, it reached its peak, measuring in at 27 feet long. Recent vehicles utilize a mobile home chassis and feature a GPS. The internet, which is never wrong, claims that there are now eleven active Wienermobiles.
The incident in Waukesha, Wisconsin was not the first run-in the Hotdoggers have had with the police. When a Wienermobile license plate (YUMMY) was stolen in Columbia, Missouri, the driver reported the theft to the police. But the police were NOT told that the tag had been replaced with an identical Wisconsin plate, also "YUMMY."
Some time later, when an officer in Arizona got irritated with that same Wienermobile (it was moving too slow and obstructing traffic), he decided to see if it was properly licensed. News came back over the radio that it was stolen. Barney Fife immediately made the arrest. (A Wienermobile with a stolen Wienermobile license tag?) It was a big indigestion for everybody until they got it straightened out.
Another Wienermobile driver once tried to turn the vehicle around in a driveway, accidently accelerated, and ripped the deck off a nearby house. You just have to be careful with those things.
There is now so much history to the Oscar Mayer wiener and the Wienermobile that it seems the little ditty we used to sing to our kids is inadequate. I think it should be expanded into a ballad.
And since retirees don't get to drive the Wienermobile, perhaps I settle by writing the ballad. Of course, since I'm somewhat of a Biblical scholar, I'll undergird the Wienermobile with some good theology. The religious right will probably want me to make the Wienermobile the villain of my ballad, what with all the inuendo surrounding it...and the suggestive sensuality of its name. They'd probably like me to make a refrain out of Deuteronomy 12:3: "Smash their pillars and burn their sacred poles."
But I don't fancy that sort of thinking. I'm more of a "God is love" type of theologian. I think my ballad will tell of a modern day people wandering in the grim wilderness of despair. Nobody gets along. Churches and nations are in disarray. And then suddenly, like manna from heaven, people will wake up one day and see Wienermobiles descending from above, like the new Jerusalem. There will be a Wienermobile for everyone. And we shall all hop in and drive about, and be amazed that the desert has turned into springs of living water. And at long last, everyone will be able to sing with everyone else, "everyone's in love with me." And we shall all live happily ever-after. Amen.