Saturday, June 30, 2012

On... Missing

BBQs have emotion wrapped all around them...inside and outside that dome, but that might not be apparent until your bbq grill goes away.

I like the smell of the bbq. I like the idea of bbq as a social event.  I like my bbq salt and pepper shakers.   I like using the leftover charcoal for s'mores.  I like the anticipation of a great steak and fresh grilled vegetables.  But I never really got into the process of cooking on a grill.  I always turned to the men in my life.  Let's face is a man's art.  A hidden art - I think they have a pact to not let women in on the secrets of grilling.  In the past, I've asked how the process starts....and it sounds easy enough.  Make a charcoal pile in the center, douse with lighter fluid, light with match.   That is all no for those of us who have inadvertently started kitchen fires (plural) in the past without matches.  It is when they start talking about the vents, airflow, and timing that I get a little edgy....they might as well be telling me how to sail a ship.

About 8 years ago, after having moved and not owning a grill, my then 12 year old son, Marty thought that he should take over this man-art in our house.  So, on Mother's Day off to Home Depot we went.  For the most part, the grills were not all domed and black.  There were decisions to be made.  There were choices of gas, charcoal, side tables, red, baskets, small, large, travel....and on and on.  We kicked up the traditional a bit and bought a large, domed, black, deluxe version - with small side tables and a charcoal tray on the bottom.  Oh yeah!  We were groovin'.  We got it home and Marty assembled it, added the charcoal and then informed me that he had no idea what to do next.  He called a friend and found out!  We're cool!  We had the best hamburgers ever.  And, I had a great Mother's Day beaming with pride for my boy, and feeling so loved that he would think to do this for his mom.  From then on, as much as I enjoyed the "fruits of labor" from the grill, or shall we say "meats and veggies of labor" for years,  I never attempted the actual grilling.
Marty got his own apartment about a month ago.  One day I was craving a grilled steak and decided that I could figure this out.  I bought a great steak.  I filled the grill with charcoal.  I opened all the vents and lit the grill up.  And, it worked!  Had the best steak ever!  It was so good, that I tried it again a few days later.  Twice it was perfect!  So, another week went by and my friend was coming from Texas (pressure is on!)  to visit for a few days.  So, we grilled (she knew about as much as I did).  This time I didn't have a lot of charcoal, so the pile in the middle was smaller.  After a half hour it was evident that the small pile wasn't going, I hustled up to the convenient store and got a couple of bags.  Put them on the first pile, added more lighter fluid, lit the match and quite possibly almost (key word) fired up the neighborhood as well as the grill.  It took a while to calm down, but when it did and when the smoke cleared, we did have the best pork tenderloin you can imagine (possibly adding some artistic license here).

So, this weekend the craving hit again.  Ahhh....the smell of the bbq! So, pulled some hamburger from the freezer to thaw and went outside to light the grill.  I keep the grill in the garage and move it to the driveway to do the grilling.  It wasn't there.  Now, when your bbq grill isn't where you left your bbq grill I am not sure what you are supposed to do.  When I lose my keys....there is a plan.  You look in the pocket of the last jeans you wore, you look on top of the washing machine, you look on the seat of the car...but, where do you look for a missing bbq grill?  I had to really resist the urge to look in the basement and on the front porch, or in the garden area.  It does have wheels, but how far could it go on it's own?  It was last left at the edge of the garage.  I sat there staring at the garage....there are only so many places a bbq grill could go.
My theory is that while I had a desk on the driveway with a "free" sign on it, someone must have come and extended the "free" terms to what was in the garage, which would have only been open if I was home. The desk sat there for almost 2 was there the whole time my friend visited...we would go somewhere, return and say, "Oh, the desk is still there."  And, so it was there during the bbq smokeout, and stood strong through a tornado warning, hail, and high winds.  But, no one wanted the desk....very "sturdy" (aka ridiculously heavy!).  While my friend was here, we had decided that the desk could make for a nice garage "kitchen" area for bbq supplies.  So, after my friend left and before the next storm, my neighbor helped me move it inside the garage, and I was a bit excited to fill it up with bbq supplies....charcoal, foil, the wire racks for grilling fish, lighter fluid, lighters, paper plates, outdoor table supplies....etc.
Ready for a BBQ!  The garage kitchen is an unloved & unwanted office desk.  Our little coffee quilt is hung with a magnetic towel bar and cafe curtain clip rings...easy!
And, so, today I crave a steak.  I have a nice "kitchen" in the garage to go with the bbq that is quite possibly in someone else's garage. ...unless it took a walk out of my garage and rolled somewhere like "Old Smokey".  Funny thing is, that bbq grill was in pretty rough shape...had paint peeling, etc.  I had my eye on new ones already.  And today, craving a steak might be the day to go looking.  Meanwhile, I have a bit of a lump in my throat for the bbq grill that my boy gave me on a Mother's Day....a day that he knew what to do for his mom.

I miss Marty, too....not in the same way as the bbq grill, of course, .... much more and in a totally different sense.  You know your kids are going to "go away", and you are proud of them for this right of passage. I visited Marty in his new apartment about a half hour away just the other day.  We decided to have dinner together.  I asked if he could bbq on his deck...he said "no, strict rules against it" and.....ah, think you have a guess where the grill, he didn't take it with him.  :)

Marty is happy in his new place, and I was proud to see him in his element....just as proud as I was 8 years ago when he took his mom to buy a grill...both rights of passage, both with emotion inside the dome.


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