Writing is a way of living out fantasies that would either be improbable to truly experience, or complete letdowns when experienced on this side of the looking glass.
One of my long-time writing fantasies involves hot dogs. Hot dogs are lovely. They taste marvelous on a bun with mustard and chopped onions. For many years now, I have envisioned myself, or another blond heroine, walking through a park somewhere in Portland or another rainy city, while wearing a bright yellow raincoat. Mysteriously, as though this were a fantasy novel in the style of Eager, I happen upon a hot dog stand that appears out of nowhere. Where once an empty square of brick work had withstood the wet weather, a cart on wheels now awaits me, the pleasant aroma of food wafting out into the rain.
I can’t resist, of course; I’m pulled, as if by force, to the chubby vendor, with his green cap pulled over his graying black hair, and his neat white apron tied around his girth. I nearly tell him I want to buy two, but, instead, hand over a $1.50 for one regular all-beef dog. I then carefully add the requisite fixings: the mustard, the chopped onions, the relish, and the peperoncinis.
“You sure know how to make a hot dog,” says the vendor with a wink.
I smile demurely and walk away, trying to find shelter from the rain that is now pouring down on the grass, the brick walkway, and all of the oak leaves blown around the trees. There really isn’t any shelter. With mock desperation, I dart under the thick branches of one of the gnarly oaks, and eat the hot dog in a few bites. Its steaminess fills my cold belly. It really is magic, you see. Now I’m warm and filled and happy, and the rain can continue to fall all day–undoubtedly, it will–but I am safe from the dreary cold.
I wipe the vestiges of mustard on my yellow raincoat, where it won’t show and will be washed away, anyway, and throw away the empty paper carton. Then, I shove my hands in my coat pockets, searching for more spare change. I feel a few quarters; I just might have enough for another! Gleefully, I run back toward the brick square, but the cart is gone. There’s no sign of it, not in any direction.
Shall I ruin my story with the reality of the endless, cold rain of the Pacific Northwest, the kind of rain that seeps right into the bones and can’t be touched with one small hot dog? Shall I ruin it by diving into a full explanation of why nobody should eat hot dogs due to the dubious nature of the animal parts encased therein, the MSG, the corn syrup, and the preservatives?
No, I suppose I shouldn’t. Tampering with the magic of fantasy and story-land could be destructive. It could blow the reality of the physical world sky high, or out into space, or somewhere . . .