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A Man, His Beer, and His Barbeque

Story ID:2264
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family Memories
Writers Conference:$500 2007 Family Memories Writing Project
Location:Tantallon Nova Scotia USA
Year:1994
Person:Me
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A Man, His Beer and His Barbecue

Where there's smoke, there are barbecuers. I know, because
I'm guilty. Every year, volunteer firemen are on alert for the
presence of the back-yard menace. They're asked to watch closely
for thick clouds of blue smoke rising from neighborhood homes, a
sure sign of men courting trouble, men like myself.

Barbecue season is here again. I'm in my glory. Taking a thick
chunk of juicy, red meat and converting it into an unidentifiable,
black, smoking crisp mellows my soul. A typical evening of smoky
pleasure begins when my wife asks, "What should we have for dinner?"

"Let's barbecue." (Why does she even ask?)

"Barbecue what?"

Does it matter? I just close my eyes, open the freezer, reach
in, pull out the first thing my hand touches, and say, "How about
this?" I open my eyes, see a Popsicle, grin sheepishly, and grab a
steak instead. "How about this?" I ask, but secretly wonder if I
could barbecue a Popsicle.

With the steak in the microwave defrosting, I prepare myself
for an hour of pleasure. I grab my barbecue lighter and rush outside
to the deck, which is my summer den. My body quivers with pleasure
at the sight of the barbecue, waiting, whispering to me, "Light
me. Light my fire."

I turn on the gas, wait a few minutes, stick the lighter into
the hole in the side, and pull the trigger. There is a muffled
explosion, the cover blows open, my hat flies off, and my lips
are forced back from my teeth. While the barbecue warms up, I spread
ointment on my burns and use my wife's make-up pencil to reapply my eyebrows.

Now for my weapons: barbecue brush, tongs, and sauce. For extra
pleasure, I grab my radio and my newspaper. Back in the kitchen, I
grab the meat and a cold beer, and I'm ready for action. On the way
out the door my wife calls out, "Don't over-do mine; you know I like
it medium-rare."

"Yes, dear." I say sweetly. "Yeah, right!" I mutter. I have an
open flame, and I plan on using it."

I slap the meat on the grill, turn on the radio, open the beer,
sit back, and put my feet on the table. A contented smile splits
my face. What a life. I have my paper in one hand, my beer in the
other, burning meat at my side. Right on schedule my barbecue
buddy, the neighbor's cat, strolls across the lawn and leaps into
my lap. For two years he's done this, making my pleasure complete.

A shift in the wind breaks through my serenity, and a cloud of
blue smoke spirals around my head. I grumble, move my chair up wind,
check the meat, find it cooking too fast, and lower the flame.

The Smith theory of barbecuing is simplicity itself: Cooking
time is directly proportional to pleasure gained and pleasure gained(PG)
equals the number of beer (B) consumed squared. (PG= BxB). It's a
relativity thing; I'm sure Einstein would have approved.

I continue to cook the meat (drink beer) until my wife gives
me her first hint of impatience. "How much longer?" she yells out
the window, scaring the heck out of me, and causing me to spill cold
beer onto the cat. The cat meows, panics and leaps away, driving
his claws into my crotch. I scream, jump to my feet, bang my
hip into the table, and knock the dish of barbecue sauce crashing
to the deck.

"Well?" She says, unconcerned. "How much longer?"

I open the barbecue cover, check the meat, look at my bare
wrist, and through pinched lips, reply, "Oh, I'd say two beers
should do it."

By summer's end she'll become used to the taste of "extinguisher
sauce," begin to trust me with my flame, and be content to let her
man do the cooking. Remember, when a real man says he has a new
flame, he doesn't mean a woman; he's talking about his barbecue.

Michael T. Smith