Most incarnations of pink make me cringe. The mere sight of certain shades seems to spontaneously force-feed me sickeningly saccharine candy and cause Hello Kitty hallucinations.
My aversion to the color is traceable to at least 1983. That was the year my parents bestowed a great gift upon us kids — an apartment big enough for my younger brother Justin and I each to have our own bedroom.
Now, those in the know have informed me that, well in advance of my second birthday, I had grown rather adept at articulating my opinion. It’s understandable then, that by the age of eight, I had stated in no uncertain terms my preference for lavender — NOT pink — as the theme color for my new room.
So imagine my mortification on move-in day when I, eager to affix my Simon Le Bon and John Taylor posters inches above my pillow, rushed in to find pink carpet AND a pink canopy bed. Gross!
(It turned out that the painter had convinced my parents — who apparently out of short-term self-preservation thought it best not to convey that information to me — that the limited natural light on that particular side of the apartment would make lavender appear a dull and unattractive gray.)
More than 25 years later, pink is still a personal pariah. I cannot recall a time when my lips or nails have been painted any color on the spectrum between cream and tomato red. I’ll pick peppermint over bubblegum any day. And the only pink articles of clothing or accessories for which I have exchanged cash or credit were soon thereafter gifted to Britney, my cousin Nicole’s six-year-old daughter. Simply put, I don’t do pink.
Except when it comes to kitschy Los Angeles landmarks.
For such bastions of Americana, I’ll even suspend my ordinarily meat-free diet and embrace a plate full of it, enclosed in a bun and overflowing with too brightly hued condiments.
Enter Pink’s — a Hollywood mainstay since 1939.
More than seventy years ago, Paul Pink first parked his pushcart full of chili dogs at the intersection of Melrose and La Brea. His hot dogs became so popular that, seven years later, Mr. Pink upgraded to a permanent establishment on the very same corner — out of which the Pink family still dishes up meaty treats to throngs of customers, locals and tourists alike.
Unable to remember the last time I had filled my belly with such forms of sustenance, I figured that my plans to see Judd, a fellow native New Yorker/high school friend now living in West Hollywood, provided the perfect opportunity to pop my Pink’s cherry.
Meeting there at 8:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night enabled us to avoid the labyrinthine queue that customarily assembles outside Pink’s on any given weekend night. We had only a few moments to scan the extensive menu, which has clearly been supplemented since Pink’s inaugural days. For instance, I was particularly drawn to the Patt Morrison Baja Veggie Dog, a vegan “hot dog” topped with guacamole, onions and tomatoes.
But I hadn’t come to Pink’s to play it safe.
After all, if you’re gonna go, go big. Right?
And so I did: a hot dog, drowned in chili and sauerkraut, and then smothered in ketchup and mustard. Oh, and a heaping portion of colossal, well-bronzed onion rings.
Childhood fans of Gray’s Papaya (a younger, but equally well-loved New York City hot dog mini-chain) and the ubiquitous food carts gracing countless city corners, Judd and I were a tough audience. My ultimate conclusion was that I preferred Gray’s Papaya’s toasted buns, but that Pink’s onion rings were a crispy force with which to be reckoned.
After eating all that we could stomach, Judd and I caught up on life, as our arteries processed the veritable shock into which we had sent them.
As we tossed our chili-stained plates into the trash and headed south to the Little Bar for a post-feast beer, I was delighted, after all these years, to have finally crossed Pink’s off my to-do list.
And when I awoke the following morning, I was even more elated — I hadn’t needed a dose of a certain over-the-counter medication of the same color.