by Joe Buonfiglio
Don’t be like that. Why you gotta be all up in my grill? …
… You know I can’t fit that veggie-burger on here now, you vegan pain in the ass. Go grab a cold one out of the cooler and just back the hell off; I’m burnin’ my damn steaks, muthafucker.
Ah, Father’s Day; nature’s way of telling the males of our species that someday your dick won’t work and you’ll be taking little blue pills out of desperation. But there is an upside; you get to grill meat without the more health-conscious “usual suspects” of your inner circle breaking your balls about clogging your arteries. It’s as if you’re celebrating Heart Disease Amnesty Day whereby your female and more metrosexual male loved ones — the ones who normally can’t resist the opportunity to intimate what a fat piece of shit you are becoming before handing you a preprinted card with directions to the nearest emergency room — are required (if not by law, out of respect for whose day it is) to shut the fuck up and let you enjoy your triple-stack burger-steak-pork chop sandwich in peace.
Now, you may have already been doing the backyard-barbecue thing before now; but as for me, Dad’s Day is the official launch of the grilling season. I love it…. LOVE IT! There is just one teeny little problem this year; no grill.
My beloved cooking implement of choice was wheezing like a grampus and beyond repair. It had to go. But, I can still remember when it was brand-spanking new; a thing of beauty and culinary inspiration to all who relish in the preparation and consumption of meat with a side order of meat.
As distant-memory serves, I had it set up at poolside just in time for one of our family’s Gathering of the Clan. I was so proud and ready to fire her up for the first time. My brother-in-law — a man who takes his grilling EXTREMELY seriously and, admittedly, can “walk the talk” when it comes to home-cooked barbecue — was going to do his world-renowned, slow-cooked pork ribs and other manner of delicious hog parts. Whether you do the pig or not; it is amazing to watch the man work. Right down to his own special baked beans, the guy is an iron chef when it comes to all things BBQ. I mean, the son of a bitch travels with his own, personalized grill-tools. And this was fine by me, because it meant there wouldn’t be any “alpha dog” bullshit to contend with. I’d be handling the grilled-fish side of the menu: skewered shrimp-n-veggies, tuna (back in the day when it wouldn’t poison you with mercury), Pacific-caught salmon (back in the day when it wouldn’t irradiate everything from your lips to your colon) and more such delectable dishes from the bounty of the sea. Everyone had arrived and it was the morning of the big pool party.
“What the fuck is your brother doing in the backyard?” I queried my wife.
“How the hell should I know,” she responded. “Look, I haven’t had my first cup of coffee yet. Whatever it is, you deal with it.”
“Is that … a shovel?”
A pig pit; he was digging a pig pit — to roast a whole hog — behind my house … without asking if this was okay. Let me make this perfectly clear: He was digging … A FUCKING PIG PIT … in my fucking backyard … without it ever occurring to him that this might be something you’d want to obtain permission from the owners of said property BEFORE engaging in the activity itself.
After a rigorous intellectual-exchange on the matter, it was determined that this was not the best course of action. And with that having been settled, I slammed some more coffee, and then hastily proceeded upstairs to shower and prepare for the day.
Upon returning to the kitchen downstairs, I got my fish and tools together, popped open a cold beer and was ready to start cooking in my inaugural use of the new grill. It was a culinary maiden-voyage I had been looking forward to with all my—
“What’s that smell? … … … Why am I detecting the distinct aroma of charring flesh?”
Moth-er-fuck-er. There he was; chomping on a fat Churchill cigar and hovering over ribs lathered in homemade sweet sauce on my brand new grill.
You do not — YOU DO NOT — steal a man’s first-use of his new grill. My shame rose up throughout the backyard along with the smoke rising off the slaughtered representative of the genus Sus. And then — AND THEN — he topped off my humiliation by cleaning my grill grates with his own, personal steel-wire brush. The problem was that those grates? Not cast iron; porcelain.
I was pissed at him for well over a decade and he never knew why. I just stewed … in my passive silence … waiting. Waiting. Oh, some day. Some. Day.
At the hands of “Cookie, King of the Barbecues,” the damn grill never worked right again. Ever! It had two settings from that point on: raw and burnt; all the gradient temperatures in-between were forever lost to humanity.
And now that the most current Father’s Day is upon me, the fucking thing is gone altogether. My companion-appendage Coleman grill that I’ve had for more than— Holy shit! Has it really been over 15 years?! I’ve moved that worthless hunk of junk from North Carolina to LA and back again? Seriously? How much did I pay in moving fees to haul that piece of shit from coast-to-coast? Am I nuts?
Sorry. That just took me by surprise. Where were we? Oh, yeah. Father’s Day.
So I’ve spent the last week looking for a replacement grill. With all the Father’s Day sales at the “manly” stores that cater to those in my predicament; this should not only be a relative cakewalk, but an actual source of enjoyment, right? Right?
Fuck you. Fuck you with the goddamn Home Depot gift card I get every year.
You can’t just buy a grill that you turn on and flames come up and you get all sweaty cooking your food, but it’s okay thanks to the abundance of cold beer in close proximity and you eat too much and fall asleep watching the game anymore. Oooooooh no. That would be too easy. Now you’ve got gas and pellets and electrics and infrared this and Big Green Egg that and multi-zone with lid-down roasting and turkey-sized head space and is the grate steel or porcelain or porcelain-coated cast iron and is there a built-in smoker box and is the body cast-aluminum or cast-iron or stainless steel or sheet metal and pick how many side burners and multiple-level cooking surfaces or a rotisserie burner with these special lights that are for who the fuck knows what and don’t even talk to me about BTU ratings or I’ll bitch-slap you where you stand and $600-$800-$1,500-$3,000 or more and shit. SHIT! My brain was leaking out of my ears in just over an hour of shopping. I mean, are you kidding me? How many options do I need to cook a hot dog? It’s a fucking hot dog! And tell me, how the hell can a grill cost three grand?! Is it made out of solid gold and blessed by the Pope with virgin’s blood? Whatever happened to choosing between the big one or the small one at these home-supply warehouse-stores, and then getting on with buying batteries for your flashlight and the new toilet plunger necessary because the old one just doesn’t do the job whenever Aunt Harriet visits insisting you take her to the Golden Corral all-you-can-eat?
Whatever happened to that simple grill? That’s the one I want.
I’d just say “Fuck it” and apply my gift card to a new lawn mower; but as a holdout from my California sensibilities, I don’t have a proper lawn. Oh no, I couldn’t put in a fucking lawn like every other house in the neighborhood. My Carolina place had to be xeriscaped, ‘cause it’s more natural and better for the environment. In hindsight, Mother Nature can kiss my rather rotund ass; SHE never had to shop for a new grill for Father’s Day.
You know what? To hell with it! It’s daddy’s choice and we’re going out for sushi.
© 2014 Joseph P. Buonfiglio All Rights Reserved.