The saga that is the search for a new outdoor grill

July 24, 2012

There are a lot of wonderful summer traditions. You know, people have reunions, picnics, take trips and just kick back with their families. All of which we love to preserve in photographs, so when the power goes out in the winter, you can flip through those albums and remind yourself of just how miserable you are. Well, I guess today you could probably skip it, since no one prints out photos anymore. Still, you could keep warm by throwing the computer into the fireplace and really have some memories.

Of course, our family tradition is nothing as exotic; it is simply known as buying another new outdoor grill. We must hold the world’s record for owning the largest collection of these commanding cooking devices. And they keep getting bigger and more powerful by the year. At some point they will turn into Hal the computer from outer space, the one whose voice sounds like the annoying lady on the phone who tells you if you’d like to make another call…; no, I just thought I’d hang around with the phone dangling from my ear for the rest of the day.

In fact, so powerful was our last Rambo Wrath of Khan Phase 12 grill that it could not only roast an entire herd of cattle at once, it could also process all the Medicare claims for the entire East Coast for the year 2012. For some reason, not one of our outdoor grills ever survives the winter. They either run away from home, preferring some federal witness protection program, confessing unspeakable fake horrors of our grilling skills, or they become greedy and rent out the inside cover to a family of disgusting rodents, charging them twice as much as what a good box in an alley would cost.

Oh sure, we started out small when we were young and foolish, buying one of those two-by-four grills from the local convenience store. It sits on the ground about two inches high and comes with its own disposable cigar box. Needless to say, if it wasn’t for the frequent visits from the fire department, we probably would have gone hungry.

From there we progressed to the junior Weber, the full-sized Weber, the mother of all Webers and then the ultimate nuclear-reactor-looking, jet-fueled propulsion mach one grill. They say that men really know how to operate these high-powered machines. I have to say, women don’t usually like anything with red lightning bolts and orange warning signs stamped all over it. Unless of course, you are at happy hour and the guy is European. But when it comes to grills, it’s kind of a turnoff.

And I like watching those shows where they grill out on the set, offering up crisp summer vegetables and all kinds of secret marinating sauces. A lot of the stuff is Southwestern, and the television anchors crowd around laughing and asking stupid questions like, “So do you boil the water to get it hot?” It’s obvious without the takeout menu stamped to their backsides, they too would go hungry.

Well, the one thing I’ve learned from my grilling years is the key to a good cookout is preparation. I usually do this a few days ahead of time by visiting my local pharmacy. There I can stock up on burn balm, burn ointment, gauze, bandages, aspirin, fire extinguishers, flame-retardant shorts and those things you stuff in your shoes for a fast getaway.

Back home, I dig out last year’s Christmas box, which contains all the attire for a barbecue; we’ve bragged so much about our skills that we’ve ended up with a large assortment of oven mitts in the shape of lobster claws and aprons that say “Men at Work.”

Of course, I never buy any food for the grill, because again I’ve learned the other key to a successful barbecue is attending someone else’s. No invitation? Not a problem. Just drive around until you smell success and drop in as a “neighbor.”

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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