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The chair-iots a comin#039; and it ain#039;t backin#039; up

Wimpy in the Popeye cartoons was the world's biggest hamburger lover

If he didn't have the money to buy one, he would plead, "I'll gladly pay you tomorrow for a hamburger today."

I can identify with Wimpy because I'm exactly the same way about a hotdog - but only if it comes from The Varsity in Atlanta.

If I don't have money to buy one, I'll gladly pay you my life savings tomorrow for a hotdog today.

"Never pass up a chance to get a Varsity dog," that's my motto. Why, I'd walk across a bed of hot coals or teeter on an iceberg for a Varsity dog.

That's the reason I agreed to tag along on a 1,000-mile round trip to the foothills of North Carolina pulling a horse trailer to bring back a ton of slatted, wood bottomed chairs for the We Piddle Around Theater.

I didn't eat for two whole days so I could stuff myself with Varsity dogs. I didn't even drink water for fear it would fill an empty space that could be occupied by a dog.

My friends, Teacakes and Mama Dude, picked me up and I checked the clock. If we made good time, I would be downing a dog in three hours and 21 minutes.

The closer we got to Atlanta, the more my mouth watered. My stomach was growling and I was licking my chops in great anticipation.

Then I heard words that threw a dark cloud over me and my whole world.

"We can't stop at The Varsity," Mama Dude said. "I can't back up with the horse trailer."

Here I was salivating for a Varsity dog and a horse trailer and a wimpy driver who couldn't back up were keeping me away.

I didn't care if Mama Dude had to loop back around through Alabama and parts of Tennessee to get us headed back toward North Carolina, I was in smelling distance of the Varsity and I wanted a dog.

"Well, just pull over and stop on a side street and I'll run across," I pleaded.

But, no. Mama Dude wouldn't do that. She couldn't back up. Now, there are probably a lot things that Mama Dude can't do, but back up, she could if she would.

She wouldn't.

She zoomed by one exit and then the next and I fell on the floorboard and cried big, hotdog tears.

About three hours later she stopped at a place where she didn't have to back up and I got a salad with diet dressing. I started not to eat at all, but I had been running below empty for two days and I was beginning to hallucinate. I kept seeing hotdogs running through puddles of ketchup and mustard with a herd of French fries hot on their tails.

That night we spent a lot of time looking for a motel that "looped." We couldn't find one so we parked in the parking lot of a fancy shopping center and hoped we wouldn't get towed.

The next morning at the break of day, we were off to get the chair-iots.

As we passed the Continental

breakfast bar, I spied a basket of shiny, red apples.

I grabbed one for myself.

"Want one?" I asked Teacakes.

Not able to carry the apples and my overnight bag, I stuffed the two apples in my pocket.

"Think Mama Dude wants one?" I asked and stuffed another in my pocket. Then I noticed we were being watched by another guest.

Teacakes and I laughed all the way to the horse trailer, knowing we were being watched and bad-mouthed for snitching apples for the horses.

We made it to Troutman, loaded 110 chairs in the horse trailer and headed back to Georgia with hotdogs on my mind.

I didn't eat the apple. I would take up too much space. This time, I planned to throw a horse blanket over Mama Dude's head and take over the controls of the truck about a mile from The Varsity.

But, lo and behold, Mama Dude shifted into turbo gear and we went through Atlanta so fast that I was forced back in my seat by centrifugal force and couldn't move a finger.

I smelled it; I glimpsed it and I tried to say "V-a-r-s-i-t-y" but no sound would come. I breathed deeply and let the aroma of the dogs permeate my entire being and somewhere in the distance a voice said to me "I'll gladly back up tomorrow but no hotdog today."