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Outdoor grilling is not about elegance

July 1, 2018

Now that we've hit the first day of summer on the calendar officially, we can head to the great outdoors for most of our enjoyable activities.

This is a good thing, with the exception of a few specific instances. For example, it's too hot to rally at protest marches, with sweat rolling down your face and your hair frizzed out so you look like Bozo the Clown. It just doesn't photograph well.

And it's too hot and humid to carjack expensive cars, since the door handles heat up to the level of plutonium in some sort of warhead that will melt down to detonation. And the heat makes everyone so sluggish that drug dealers usually have to sleep until noon or at least one o'clock.

Of course, being outdoors in the summer, you've got the threat of lightning, which doesn't concern me too much, since I am usually under the bed during storms. And oddly enough, the hazardous sport of badminton, which also doesn't bother me, because being facedown on the pavement or grass is a position I'm quite used to finding myself in. Many contestants are easily fooled to go down this path.

So, the closest thing I can think of that qualifies as outdoor activity and also enhances the enjoyment of the summer months, and even includes the risk of mass annihilation is – according to the scientific answers on the television show "Jeopardy" – grilling.

You see, the challenge with grilling is the implied burden to get food just right. There is the tendency to overcook meat and vegetables.

One has to remember, this isn't napalm you are dealing with as a cook. All of this stress is made greater by the special grilling attire you got for Christmas, an apron that proclaims, All Hail No. 1 Cook and Corn Dog Champ, plus a pair of oven mitts in the shape of lobster claws. And it doesn't help to look back on all your bragging at the office Christmas party, which sent your grilling reputation soaring to the point where you were challenging Sean Penn to a grill-off.

You have to remember, you aren't dealing with a crowd sitting in the library awaiting the queen for afternoon high tea. This is a hungry group that has been drinking beer since Al Roker gave the weather forecast that morning on the "Today" show.

Hunger will make anyone do strange things, like demanding food, especially those little hot dogs called pigs in a blanket. You always should keep a load of these on hand for a restless crowd. I know the queen often makes a midnight run for them.

Now, just to appear knowledgeable, which by consensus, most fact checkers would agree, I don't fall in that category, I will give you some advice regarding purchasing a grill. You should always go for the grill with the least amount of lightning bolts or the word Danger plastered in electric orange all over it. Stores always line these up outside the entrance for inspection, with names like the Commando, the Terminator or The Mother, written above a picture of George Foreman barbecuing a piece of meat the size of an aircraft carrier.

Personally, I prefer the smaller-size grills. You can buy them at any all-night convenience store; they are about as big as a cigar box and completely disposable, usually behind a wall of flames. The beauty is they come with their own supply of burn ointment and a whole roll of bandages.

See, you can't beat that. So now that summer is here, you will be able to enjoy those outdoor activities, unless they involve a rash, Lyme disease or poison ivy. Just saying.

  • 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.