June 29, 2004
Grillmaster S

Ellen, pushing a red target shopping cart down the aisles: "We need a grill."

Scott: "Our yard is 10ft x 10ft. The garage is full of spare parts and gardening stuff. The association Gestapo will take our child if we get a grill and leave it outside. I have it on good authority it's not a good idea to grill inside."

"We need a grill. This grill."

"We'll have to sit on the ground with that! We'll look like extras in a cross between The Brady Bunch and Dances with Wolves."

"We need a grill."

Olivia: "BAH!"

Ellen: *blink* *blink*

So a grill we got, a Thermos brand table-top grill, about 18 inches per side, 2.25 square feet of flame-broiling goodness. The learning curve was steep but short, with a small bag of "match lite" briquettes (which have the advantage of smelling like a fireworks factory while being only marginally safer) being replaced by "regular" charcoal and lighter fluid (OOK! THAG MAKE FIRE!), and then, after Ellen saw how I worked with that, a chimney starter that didn't require lighter fluid.

Scott: "But! But!"

Ellen: "Listen sparky, I didn't spend all this time, effort and money buying a house just so you could play Willie the mad match thrower around it. My house, my rules."

"Your house?!?"

"Look! Grill tools!"

"Oooo... tools..."

Actually, it all worked pretty well, at least in small batches. The chimney starter would fire up just enough coals to cook four burgers, two steaks, or a pound of chicken with enough heat to do the job quickly while leaving cool sear marks. Of course the operative word here was small.

Scott: "How many people did you invite to Olivia's birthday party?"

Ellen: "Umm... lemme count... looks like... sixteen. No. Seventeen. Since we have a grill now, we can have a barbecue!"

Scott: "I thought this was supposed to be a really small get together?"

Ellen: *blink* *blink*

So there I was, trying to figure out how to feed more than a dozen people with a grill the size of a briefcase. The biggest problem, I thought, would be getting enough heat. No way the chimney starter will work this time, doesn’t light enough coals. So I filled the grill up with charcoal, maybe two layers deep and corner-to-corner, doused it with lighter fluid, and hit it with the grill lighter.

What I was expecting was a nice, even, hot grill. What I got would compare favorably to the ass-end of an F/A-18 on full afterburner. The frozen pre-made hamburger patties we'd gotten specially for this occasion started to sear six inches from the grate, and hot dog wieners turned a crusty black in seconds. Dripping grease from the patties caused flare-ups that would take the eyebrows off the unwary (well, they would have if anyone could have gotten that close to the Kilauea-in-a-can I'd created). What went on as patties and dogs came back as roof shingles and dried rat turds.

Eventually a real grilling expert, in the form of my father-in-law Billy, coolly stepped in to save me from the miniature forge-of-Hades I'd created in my driveway. A few strategic water-hose blasts here, a few vents closed there, and (after about fifteen minutes) hot dogs started taking minutes to sear instead of seconds. Burger patties no longer charred in arching hellfire flare-ups, instead cooking nicely, if rather quickly. Most glorious of all, both wife and mother-in-law were far too busy hosting the estrogen-fest upstairs (twelve of the seventeen attendees were female) to make it down for a critique.

Because the only thing worse than screwing up a party in front of your wife is, of course, screwing it up in front of your wife and her mother.

Posted by scott at June 29, 2004 02:03 PM

eMail this entry!

Scott: You are lucky I didn't come down to see what you were doing....but I heard about it and when I saw the evidence (charred hamburgers and hot dogs)I thought better to keep my comments to myself since you will be coming to my house in a few weeks. I have nothing to say about your grilling but you can be sure that will not be your post at the party.

Posted by: Queen Mother on July 1, 2004 07:14 AM
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