12.17.06 – Chicago, IL

So if any of you Scooter-for-a-day contestants had been Scooter late on Friday night, you would have found yourself at The Wieners Circle in the Lincoln Park section of Chicago. They have good food, but they’re most famous for verbally abusing their customers, who are drunk, and who have been known to ask for the “chocolate milkshake” (NC-17) even though it’s not on the menu. I like the fries.

Ordering food there is an intimidating experience, especially for an out-of-towner, but I was determined to get through it without being heckled. I stepped up and commanded a char-dog with everything on it and fries. I didn’t stutter. I took half of the stuff they put on my char-dog off my char-dog, but it was better than trying to communicate a custom order in that environment. I didn’t forget to tip, mostly because they said it was “five dollars, and six with the tip.”

So young Scooter goes up to the counter. It’s scary. He’s nervous. At the Wieners Circle there’s always a crowd of drunk people watching you. I imagine it’s not unlike performing at the Tufts Spring Fling. Scooter ordered a hot dog, looked up at the menu, added cheese fries to his order, paused, and while still looking up at the menu said “and a cup of water.”

He actually tried to order a water at the Wieners Circle. The reaction was immediate and merciless. “You cheap-ass motherfucker, you come in here and ask for a water!? Don’t I look busy to you? Get the fuck outta here!” The other Wieners Circle employees chimed in and formed something of a chorus — “a goddam water!? who? cheap-ass motherfucker!” Even the cook put down the tongs and turned around to throw a couple of insults Scooter’s way. Scooter was flustered. He still had his signature ear-to-ear grin going on but his body language was clearly uncomfortable. He was backpedaling and looking around the room for help. He might have mumbled “I’m just as God made me.”

On Saturday I told a bunch of people that I went to the Wieners Circle the night before and they all said “oh that place is great” and usually added “did you order the chocolate milkshake?” When I said my friend Scooter asked for a “cup of water” they all instantly laughed and thought that maybe he did it on purpose. Like when we were in college and we’d end up at a diner in Davis Square called “Dolly’s” that was only open from 11pm to 5am… when you asked to use the bathroom at Dolly’s they’d lead you through the kitchen to a trap door in the floor where you’d go down a ladder into a little dungeon with a toilet. It was bizarre and every time we went to Dolly’s someone would inevitably ask “do you guys have a bathroom” while the rest of us laughed. That’s not what Scooter was doing at the Wieners Circle. He was just being a cheap ass motherfucker.

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