Our son Kirk tells the story of how we once told him we were going to take him out for a meal in California and he was expecting a “real meal”. However, he was surprised when we said, “Oh, we have some Arby’s coupons, so we’ll go there.” He had been thinking of something a little higher on the food chain.

We do use coupons and the fast food joints have them in the paper every week. Burger King always has their “two-for-one” and Wendy’s is often good for a small Frosty. But you have to cut the tiny coupons out of the ads and save them for the right time. We keep them in the glove compartment in a special wallet-like container and it is always full. However, sometimes we will decide on Junk in the Box or Whataburger and get there only to see that the coupons expired last week. So we have to look for more coupons in the wallet safe and we usually find something.

Last week a really special coupon came up: Two-for-one foot long hotdogs at Sonic. Now we don’t usually eat at Sonic because there is no place to eat except in your car. Girls on roller skates bring your food, unless it is winter and they can use skis.

Joice likes a hot dog about once a year and here was our chance. Why not get our two-for-one hotdogs and go to the nearby park and have a picnic? We could get take some water bottles, a couple of tangerines and sit in the shade of the park and enjoy our hot dogs.

We happily went to the drive-thru area of Sonic to order our meal. “I have a two for one foot long hotdog coupon,” I said excitedly. “Oh, will that be with onions?” “Onions on one, none on the other,” I replied. “What about a drink?” “No thanks.” And some French fries?” “No thanks, just the foot longs.” “Oh”, she said rather disappointedly, “that will be $3.89 and go to the next window.”

The next window is where you pay and pick up your goods. Some fast food places have two windows, one for giving, one for receiving. We waited while a woman in a big white SUV who had ordered enough for a small army picked up her stuff—one sack after another. It was then our turn.

Those Sonic hot dogs are really long, I’m sure they measure more than a foot long and next time I am going to take a tape measure. I don’t want a 15 inch hotdog. A man in the window used both arms to extend our dogs to us and told us to “enjoy”—the standard greeting at FF enterprises.

They were fresh dogs and they were hot, so Joice put the bag down by her feet so she would not blister her hands and have to sue Sonic. That happens at FF places—a woman sued McDonalds 2 million dollars because she spilled hot coffee on her legs. The lawsuit indicated that she not only had red spots to prove the burning of her skin but that she had suffered traumatically, with psychological fixations against coffee. And, of course, her husband loved coffee, although he now too was suffering from Post Coffee Spill Traumatic Syndrome and was joining his wife in the suit against McDonalds. They eventually settled for $750 and three tubes of burn cream but they now buy their coffee at Burger King, where it is always lukewarm.

We left Sonic and headed for the Park, which was only 5 minutes away and had three picnic tables, all of them cement and with benches so low that you could rest your chin on the table, if it hadn’t been so dirty.

But this was our picnic day and we were going to enjoy it. We spread out our wares: two bottles of cold water, some napkins, two tangerines and a knife to carve up the foo- longers. It was going to be a great picnic.

Unfortunately, I had not consulted the weather ap on our i-pad, where it said—if I had looked—that the winds were gusting to 25 miles an hour. The first thing to go was the napkins, followed (almost) by the hot dogs. Joice’s landed on the cement below the table, but fortuitously it was right side up, still in the cardboard container. She did not realize that two hands were needed to hold the hot dog down—it wanted to fly with the wind.

I was more cautious and used our knife to cut mine into four sections of 3 inches each, plus or minus, but mostly plus. By holding the three parts with one hand, I could eat the other part with the other hand. Luckily, I can use either hand, which was to my advantage. Joice is decidedly left-handed and her right hand was not strong enough to overcome the wind, so the hot dog kept trying to get up and run away.

Then there was the matter of the water and how to drink it and keep everything else from blowing away. We didn’t worry about the tangerines—they just rolled around on the table, but never off it.

The hot dogs are really sloppy joes, so the napkins were sloppy as well and we couldn’t wipe our mouths with them without rubbing the stuff all over our cheeks. There wasn’t anyone around to see us but, trained as we have been in cultured dining, it simply would not do to use those napkins. Instead we licked as much as we could and let the rest dry in situ until we got home.

We weren’t done. After we ate as fast as we could, I threw the remaining mess in the trash can (a large 50 gallon drum) and then we decided to take a stroll around the cement loop in the park. We started out going into the wind and I had to push Joice the first 100 feet or so, but coming back the wind blew us fiercely to the north. We held on to each other with gusto, finally reaching the car and settling into our seats.

We looked like we had been to some sort of an all-night bash—hair disheveled, sloppy joe on our lips, and burping madly because we had eaten so quickly.

It was not what we had hoped for and different than we had imagined: the fresh, windy outdoor air, with a high pollen count on the trees and grasses was making us sneeze, cough and wheeze, but we believe we can handle it, having once lived in the jungle.

We also think that we have learned how to handle Texas winds and next time we will look at the weather map first.

The main thing is that we had been together for a picnic—thanks to Sonic and their Two-for-One coupon.

And we have another one that doesn’t expire for a month.

March 31
Waco, Texas