by Tea Krulos, photo by Nik Kovac

It’s midnight on a Friday night, and the corner of North and Oakland is hopping. I’m standing by Sil’s Drive- Thru. I like to make an annoying argument that this hot dog stand is no less an architectural achievement than Calatrava’s Milwaukee Art Museum. I mean, it’s much smaller, but if you somehow blew it up and moved it to the lake, it would look more or less the same, minus the flapping wings.

One thing you won’t find hanging on a Calatrava, though, is a banner that reads “Wieners for the wasted – $1.50 hot dogs with ketchup and mustard 10PM-2:30AM.” Giant hot dogs bookend the words, and the words “for the” are in an explosive neon starburst. Sil’s also offers a variety of other dogs, from a Chicago style to a Southsider (with kraut), donuts, nachos, coffee, slush puppies, and more.

A group of college women walk by.

“I said c’mon, Andrea, rum or beer? Rum or beer? C’mon, RUM or BEER? And she was like…” Her thought is derailed by the traffic light. “…C’mon, ladies, the light is GREEN! So, I was like, you are going to be soooooooo drunk.”

At this moment a man walks out of the Eastsider to greet another man. He picks him up and then begins thrusting him up and down. It’s reminiscent of an intimate position called Janukurpara.

A dejected looking man approaches Sil’s and looks a little down. Perhaps he has struck out, and now his companions home are a couple of dogs.

A girl walks by briskly, deep in thought, an unlit cigarette hanging from her mouth. She’s almost out of sight before she lights up.

Two women walk up to Sil’s, one on a cell phone. They passed two guys on the corner who stare over at them. The women look, but give no commitment.

“Shiiiiishhh.” One of the guys says, and they move on. The women order nachos and donuts, and uh-oh, someone’s in the doghouse from the dog stand.

“No. I hate you. You hang up on me ONE MORE TIME and I swear…” Her threat is drowned out by the number 15 bus.

Two guys exit Cush across the street and yell and wave at the women.

“Aaaaaay!” One guy yells. “Aaaaaaaay!” One of the guys wears a red polo shirt and the other a matching yellow polo shirt. I think “with ketchup and mustard” and laugh. They should be standing here by Sil’s with a guy in hot dog costume.

A couple walks up and they grab some dogs.

“You wanna walk that way, or you wanna walk that way?” he asks, shrugging. All roads lead to Rome, they say.

A group of five women walks by. Three are on cell phones, and another is howling an awful, off-key rendition of “God Bless America.”

Across the street at El Chico Zuma, the kitchen staff is outside, peoplewatching and smoking. One of them swings a kitchen rag above his head like a lasso.

Inside Sil’s, the hot dog wrangler is taking a break, playing a handheld Playstation. The marquee above Pizza Man spells out this message- “AHH… SUMMER NIGHTS BY THE LAKE… LIFE IS GOOD.” Yes, it is.

I have a hot dog and it’s okay. I bet it would be better if I was wasted.

Riverwest Currents online edition – August, 2007