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On a humdrum coffee stop on the way to work one day a few months ago I had a humorous exchange with the owner of a Dunkin' Donuts where I pick up my usual black coffee.
Me: Black coffee, please.
Dunkin' Donuts Guy: What size, sir?
Me: Oh... extra large.
DDG: And a donut?
Me: Nah, just the coffee.
DDG: Cream and sugar?
Me: No, just black. Like my men.
DDG: Excuse me, sir?
Could be that the guy behind the counter hadn't seen Airplane!, the classic film starring Leslie Nielsen, and the film from which I poached that line. There are other establishments that will give you pushback if you get smartalecky.
Wieners Circle is what some might call a standard fare hot dog joint, but as a restaurant is less of an accidental food stop and more an institution. Tucked right in the preppy, drunken heart of Lakeview, about a block and a half south of Diversey on Clark, this Chicago favorite serves up hot dogs and other grilled and fried foods --such as char dogs, burgers, fries and chicken fingers-- but serves it all with a small dose of rudeness and a large side of invective.
I was there Monday night after a short bout of drinking with an out-of-town friend. It was only 11:30 and kind of slow, slower than average on, say, a Thursday or Saturday, when Wieners Circle would normally be packed with buzzed and hungry Northsiders awaiting their turn to be fed and verbally abused.
"Hey watchu want?" said the fairly polite woman I've seen a few times behind the counter.
As I speedily asked for a char dog, she gave me the price and turned her attentions to a 20ish couple in the corner about seven feet away.
"This motherfucker over here thinks he's gon' get some," Ms Weiner said toward the spiffy dude in his blinged out special edition Cubs cap. "He's not gettin shit, not dressed like that, no way uh uh. Mmmn mmm."
The lad glanced over and brushed it off, and went back to womanizing his girlfriend over a steamy, soggy paper basket of cheese fries and ketchup. To me she said, "Thanks, bitch. Please tip," and I was on my way.
Sure, this time at Wieners Circle I ordered my food fairly unscathed, but another time I wasn't so lucky.
Another time I had visited when it was late and crowded, wearing a Philadelphia Flyers tee shirt I had had for a while, not thinking anything of it. It was several months after the Blackhawks had beaten my Flyers for the Stanley Cup, and in summer 2011 the Cup itself was still making appearances around Chicago for fans to pose and pic with.
"Bitch looks like you're going hungry tonight," said a dude behind the Wieners Circle counter, as different woman at the register said, "No, uh uh, no small talk what do you want?" slightly stamping her feet for my order.
Conan O'Brien sent Triumph and Jack McBrayer to visit Wieners Circle, where all orders come with a side of "Bitch" or "Motherfucker".
Befuddled because I hadn't been there a while among all the chaos and expansive junk food menu, I hesitated for a moment, ordering two dogs and fries I'd probably regret in the morning.
"Move out, motherfuckah!" she ordered after again stomping her feet and badgering me to pay, before moving on to assail the next patron; a college kid who was clearly stoned and who made the mistake of repeatedly calling the surroundings and cursing "Awesome!"
Appropriately so, the cashier called the college stoner a "high muthafuckah", smirking as she said for him to come back and order when he came to. After all, he was holding up the line.
The tip cup comes with instructions.
It's all tongue-in-cheek, really. The folks at Wieners Circle have a bit of fun with it, insulting patrons who could go anywhere for a late night snack, but go there to Weiners Circle because they enjoy being lampooned and insulted in a way the they never would at any corporate establishment.
The other night I got my fill of a tasty bite and some insult comics, even if the shtick was an off-night lighter-than-normal dose because of the small crowd.
Still, I'm feeling a little screwed over by Wieners Circle. Although I got my char dog and got called a bitch, they totally forgot my complimentary side of motherfucker.
Andy Frye writes about sports and life here, along with other publications. Insult him over a char dog on Twitter at @MySportsComplex.