I have no grilling skills and neither does my husband. I have tried the gas grill, the electric grill, and the standard charcoal briquette method. Everything I attempted to grill was burnt on the outside and bloody raw in the center.

The only thing I did learn was that you should never add more lighter fluid after the flames have begun to make their appearance. The burgers taste as if they have been marinated in kerosene. It is also the reason I still have no eyebrows and have to draw them on with eyeliner. That explains why I have the facial expression of a circus clown who is in a state of perpetual; astonishment.

I used to feel a stab of envy when my friends bragged about their man’s grilling skills. The last time my husband did any cooking was back in 1978 after my gall bladder surgery. I was too weak to hold the spatula, so he lovingly taped it to my arm and we count that as him “cooking.”

We eventually got rid of our grill years ago because its sole purpose seemed to be providing a home for wasps and spiders while taunting our inadequacies.

My friend Janice invited me to her family’s Fourth of July grill-out on their new deck. She made a point of mentioning her pride in her husband Ben’s note-worthy grilling skills.

I arrived at Janice’s grill-out a couple of hours early so we could visit and I could help her get ready if she needed help. I doubt if she did. Janice is one of those enviously self-sufficient women. She probably would be great as that circus act where she could keep all those plates simultaneously spinning on those sticks and never lose a single plate.

Meanwhile, Ben–who was decked out in in an apron that read, “May I suggest the sausage?” with an arrow pointing down towards his crotch–occasionally turned over burgers and hotdogs, drank a few beers and shared sports stories with the neighbor next door who had drifted over when he caught the whiff of burgers.

Janice, on the other hand, did not have a fancy apron laden with sexual innuendo. She was also not drinking beer and shooting the breeze. She had been too busy cleaning the house, buying food and supplies, washing and putting out the patio furniture, paper plates, and plastic forks, and filling the coolers with beverages.

As other folks arrived, Janice quietly prepared the potato salad, iced tea, lemonade, baked beans, and coleslaw. She then formed the ground beef into patties, fired up the grill, and called Ben.

Out in the yard, Ben was a virtual disco party of grilling dance moves. He even attempted a behind-the-back burger flip for once.and failed miserably, but he suavely made it look like a burger falling to the groud was part of the show. He finished with a spin and his best John Travolta pose.

While Janice fluttered around like a butterfly, quietly making sure that everyone had something to drink and plenty of “sides,” Ben yelled out every few minutes, “Aren’t these the best damned burgers you ever tasted?” Everyone nodded and agreed that he was a grilling genius.

Afterward, Ben told Janice, “Just relax, honey. This is your special day. You don’t have to clean up this mess,” he added. Just when I thought, “At least he is going to clean up his own mess,” he added, “Just leave it until tomorrow morning. You can take care of it then.”

Wow. Isn’t that considerate?

By then Ben was so exhausted from his burger-flipping theatrics that he had to lie down on the hammock and drink beer all afternoon while Janice entertained the straggling guests.

Janice never mentioned that she had prepared thousands of meals for her family, from start to finish, and the only compliment she ever got from Ben was a groan and a belch that could peel wallpaper.

Ben swears that the secret to grilling perfect hamburgers is knowing just when to raise and lower the heat. It looks to me like the real secret is getting someone else to do all the work while you hog the glory.

I can do without that kind of “help.”

3 thoughts on “FIRE UP THE GRILL

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