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Fire good: reprise

Posted: May 8, 2017 5:32 p.m.
Updated: May 9, 2017 1:00 a.m.

I recently bit the bullet and did something I’ve been meaning to do for about two years now.

I am sublimely happy, too.

Nope, didn’t buy a motorcycle or get hair plugs, although that may be next on the late mid-mid life crisis to do list. I went to the middle-aged adult toy store, a place known as “Lowe’s” and bought a new gas grill. 

You see, with all this great weather -- tornadoes and freeze warnings in May aside -- it’s time once again for that most cherished rite of warm weather: Grilling out.

It’s not just that the weather is nice and cooking out is a welcome change from hunkering in a cold kitchen all winter. It’s not just that the stars are bright and the yard is green, blooming and happy. No, the only words I can possibly use to describe it are the following: MMMMMM…URRGHH….FIRE GOOD!

So said Og the Caveman right before he burned the ever-living dinosaur doots out of himself while attempting to grill out a freshly deceased monitor lizard over the cave fire with his bare hands.

It wasn’t a total loss -- all his buddies got a huge laugh riot out of the whole scene, what with Og stomping around the campfire, waving his flaming arm and shrieking whatever passed for vulgarities back then at top volume. That and blackened monitor lizard became a big culinary hit.

Don’t believe me? Just check out some of those early cave drawings. They don’t say things like, “Now is the winter of our discontent and the wooly mammoth deliver us from evil and ourselves.” They say things like, “Look at that moron Og doing the flaming hand dance. If it weren’t two million years behind the times, this would be a great Three Stooges episode.”

At least, they would have said that if I had drawn them.

The fact is, grilling out is more Zen ritual than an alternative to cooking in the kitchen for most guys. This is because it involves all of our favorite things in mass quantities and in the following order: Beer, meat, beer, fire, and beer.

The best part of grilling is the fact that cleanup is a cinch. All you have to do is build an inferno or crank up the gas to burn off the remnants of the last meal cooked there. Burn and scrape, scrape and burn, and presto: It’s clean! What could be better? What could be simpler?

Despite the fun factor, there are certain things one should be conscious of while building your inferno. For one, you should be aware of the grill’s capacity -- five bags of charcoal in a pan with a max capacity of twelve brickets at a time will cause a home version of the China syndrome. And never, ever look straight at a smoldering pile right after dropping a match on fuel soaked briquettes. Also, no matter how fun it can be, it’s not a great idea to squirt lighter fluid on open flames. It’s also a pretty good idea to follow the directions on how to light a gas grill -- for example, I learned the hard way not to hit the igniter button with the lid closed. 

The classic cautionary tale is the one about the guy skydiving for the first time. Like many first times, this guy runs into a problem -- his parachute won’t open when he pulls the ripcord. As he’s plummeting earthward, still pulling the ripcord, he finds himself passing another guy flying skyward as fast as the parachutist is going down. As they pass each other, the guy with the empty parachute yells, “Hey buddy! Do you know anything about stuck parachutes?”

The guy yells back, “No! Do you know anything about lighting a gas grill?”


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