Letters to my Father on the daily humerous trials and tribulations surrounding being a man, a dad and a husband.
Monday, March 21, 2011
A Tale of Two Grills
March is here and we have had our first week in the seventy to eighty degree range. My wife has begun to drop hints about barbecuing, and she is making promises to the kids. I am probably going to grill some burgers and dogs tomorrow night, just to break in the grill after it’s long winters nap. In preparation I’ll have to clean the grill inside and out, check and probably replace the propane tank. All this work for hotdogs and cheeseburgers seems a little crazy and uncharacteristic for me but I like to give my grill a little spring training every year. You can’t expect your grill to wake up and just knock a brat or steak out of the park, you have to coach it a little. Send it back to the minors for a day and let it work out any issues it may have.
All types of grills have their shortcomings and a lot of people scoff at the propane grill calling them less manly and complaining that they can taste the propane. These same people use microwaves all winter long, so they’re pretty much full of crap. Besides the charcoal grill is a single mans tool specifically designed to entertain the ladies. Oh yes, that’s what I said! Entertain the Ladies. First the young buck invites them over. He reduces the standard female inhibitions with alcohol, he arranges the briquettes showing her that he could have been an engineer if he wanted to. He lights the fire with a match, maybe singeing the hairs on the back of his hand and earning sympathy and hopefully some nursing as well. Now he gets a half hour of guaranteed time she has to spend with him. That’s thirty minutes of beer drinking and chit chat all aimed at one goal. Then he gets to dazzle her with his culinary skills and feed her as she has never been fed before. If he’s smart he ensures the coals stay hot by adding some more right after the food is done. This way when dinner is over he can roast her a marshmallow over the white coals and make her a smore. (That is a freebie for all you youngin’s taking notes.) Ah yes the charcoal grill is an excellent tool not to be underestimated by young men or for that matter by the young ladies.
After marriage and children (4 in my case) a man is in a hurry when cooking out. First you have to do the dogs for the children. Then the real food for the adults. There is more food to make so you need a larger grill. It doesn’t work to use a charcoal grill to try and hide outside and avoid household chores. A wife is smarter than that and she just sends the children out to play. She sticks her head out the door and casually says something like ‘honey keep an eye on them while your staring at those coals.’ Listen close enough after the door shuts and you can hear her laughing softly as she slides into a fresh drawn bubble bath.
Needless to say ‘THE MAN’ cannot be fooled. I purchased a large propane grill several years ago. Now I produce barbecued animal flesh at an assembly line speed. I’ve always maintained that married men strive to do everything (except one thing) as fast as humanly possible. It’s an excellent grill, and if you use sauces and seasonings and good meat then that is what you will taste. I recommend hickory. If you're tasting propane then either you're doing something wrong or you need to see a doctor about your mutated taste buds.
All this barbeque talk reminds me of an incident early in my marriage. I always used the same Webber grill and employed all the tactics previously mentioned. Those tactics will work on a wife too if you're still newly weds with one child or less, and you replace the beer with margaritas. You need a little more kick now, because she knows that if you get what your wanting, she might have to go through labor again. I picked up a travel size mini grill for free at a garage sale one day while I was on my way home. When I got home it was a pleasant enough day, so I figured I would use it instead of my classic Webber. I set it down on the deck and loaded and lit the coals. I wondered why it wouldn’t come with legs. Seemed to me that you wouldn’t want to set a grill on a plastic deck table. I just assumed that the mini grill was manufactured not to conduct heat to the lip the grill’s bowl rested on. I walked away from it and went inside to my television. I’ve been married too long to employ the chit chat tactic and I was out of margarita mix. Ten minutes later my wife came running into the room telling me the deck was on fire. I rushed outside and picked up the mini fire starter from hell. I set it on top of my Webber grill and turned to stare at the perfect sphere of scorched deck where the travel p.o.s. had been sitting moments before. I started swearing and grumbling, I blamed the manufacturer for not putting a larger lip around the bottom of the stupid thing. I yelled out to the heavens “No wonder it was FREE!” I shouted to my wife “There should be legs or something on this dang thing!” Later that night after we ate and the stupid defective grill had cooled down, I carried it down to the trash. I was even more upset when I noticed that because I had set it on top of the Webber, I also melted the plastic knob of my only other grill. I felt the same way about that Webber grill as Tom Hanks felt about his volley ball.
As I turned away from my trashcan to head back inside I saw the underside of the nemesis grill.
There folded inwards, were three extendable legs.
It’s been years and my wife won’t let me forget about it, neither will the deck. It reminds me every summer day by winking a giant perfectly spherical black eye at me.
It’s OK though, my sweet wife has given me permission to build a new, larger deck as soon as I can afford it. What she doesn’t know are my plans to drop a hot tub into the middle of the new deck. Oh yeah! Who needs tactics when you’ve got a hot tub. I’ll get to spend hours in hardware stores. I’ll get to buy new tools and spend half a summer stretching that project out. No diaper changing, no ‘honey do’ list. Just me, a hammer and my deck. I also got to purchase my new baby, the propane giant that’s been feeding us for years now. I can’t wait to attack my wife’s defenses with evenings spent in a hot tub. So as you can see, even when I am not the smartest man, I AM STILL THE MAN! Guys need to remember to turn their dumbest mistakes into the greatest of victories. Also keep several fire extinguishers in the house.