Pull up a hot dog and let’s laugh about it
“Big Decisions Are Best Made with Hot Dogs,” by Joe Hudson. 2013. 280 pp. $14.99. Also available as ebook.
With a catchy title, “Big Decisions are Best Made with Hot Dogs,” Joe Hudson’s collection of newspaper columns and other writings is guaranteed to get picked up by curious readers.
Inside, they’ll find a down-home voice pondering the little things in life, and the big things, all met with a sense of humor and good, old-fashioned common sense.
Hudson writes a weekly column for the Statesville Record & Landmark, entertains people with speeches and has been working with local government in water resources for decades.
His take on life is informed by his experiences, and Hudson would rather laugh than cry. It seems he wants you to know that whatever mess you’re in, whatever scrape, it’s nothing new, and humor will help you get through it.
The book was released on National Hot Dog Day, July 23.
Hudson tells about hot days working tobacco, when he thought he’d die from the heat, in “Jack Daniels Kept Me From Jim Beam and Johnnie Walker.” One day, no one brings water to the field where Joe is working, and he ends up sitting next to his friend, who everyone calls Jack Daniels. Now Jack is a large man, and he hangs out with the other workers sipping liquor when they can get it. On this particularly hot day, he lets his little buddy try it, but Joe, thinking it’s iced tea, takes a big gurgle from the bottle, setting his mouth, throat and tongue on fire until, a few minutes later, he hasn’t a care in the world. This is the longest story in the book and one that really sets the tone for the hilarity/calamity to follow.
He praises a favorite food in “Oh, Come to Me, My Sweet — Corn,” telling us “From the time I was a small child, corn has always been a source of wonder and delight.” He pooh-poohs all the naysayers — corn is bad for you, corn syrup will kill you, ethanol is useless. He goes off to eat it anyway. With salt and butter.
The book is divided into eight sections, one covering holidays and vacation, one family life, one food, another marriage. He has a lot to say about marriage. And many of the pieces not in the food category mention food. Obviously the way to this man’s heart is through his stomach.
There’s a couple of pointed pieces, too, like “What is Life All About?” In it, he reminisces about the good old days of the 1960s, when all you needed was love and a few beads. Now, he says, the world is full of rage and violence and there’s only one way to get through it: “It will take a little faith to see us through and what else but faith in a loving God can keep you afloat in such corrupt and violent times?” He continues, “Faith still lives due to the endurance of gentleness and the ability to laugh.”
Hudson has that ability in abundance, and most of his short columns are a humourous look about things common to the average Joe. Like Joe’s wife’s hot flashes, in “February and Hot Flashes Can Freeze a Man.” His wife likes to keep the temperature below freezing in the house, and it leads Hudson to memories of working the farm on raw January days. His solution to the latest chill in the air is simple — he thinks about crawling in the freezer to keep warm.
There’s plenty more here, silly and somewhat serious, satire and flippancy. His theory is that all life’s ups and downs are better when you have someone to share it with.
He speaks most often to beleagured husbands, knowing they are flawed and without much hope of earning their wives’ approval, and in one of those funny stories he tells on himself, he is jolted with the perfect verbiage to write his column after hours of sharpening his pencils, rearranging his desk, taking vitamins and staring out the window. He writes like a fiend, surpassing all his expectations and triggering delusions of grandeur, when he realizes he missed — by hours — the moment he was to press a button on the oven to start the meal his wife is serving to four friends. It’s the perfect storm, and he’s the one who gets drenched.
As for the title story — you’ll just have to read it to find out what the decision is.
Hudson will sign copies of his book on Sept. 7, 1-3 p.m., at Literary Bookpost, 110 S. Main St., in downtown Salisbury. Be sure to stop in — he’s got plenty more stories to tell.