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Posted by on Apr 29, 2024 in Retirement Humour |

Living Retired — ‘Guys & Grills’

Living Retired — ‘Guys & Grills’

Living Retired — ‘Guys and Grills’

By Gary Chalk.

It is Spring: lawns are greening, flowers are blooming, and men are drinking beer before they ignite their gas barbecues. What can possibly go wrong!

I was in elementary school when my father taught me all about barbecuing — which created my craving for steak that tasted like Zippo lighter fluid.

Saturday evening was always barbecue night at the Chalk house. Dad would haul his heavy black beast of a barbecue to the breezeway. There was a small milk box by the side door where the milkman left milk bottles and the mailman stuffed the Eaton’s catalogue. This is where Dad stored his one quart can of lighter fluid.

Dad taught me the ins and outs of holding tongs in oversized barbecue gloves. And when Mom wasn’t watching he would demonstrate his technique squirting lighter fluid three feet away from the briquettes until they were soaked. Then he would add a bit more lighter fluid for ‘good measure’ and throw a match. BOOM!! Such fun.

I remember Dad saying, “Gary, a barbecue is not a toy. It is especially important to always remember that when you strike the match and toss it onto the charcoal…”

BOOM!!! Mom came running! Dad’s eyebrows were singed white just like Walter Cronkite.

The first barbecue Jan and I purchased was a small fire pit called a hibachi. It included two small cooking grills with wooden handles, with two wood feet, which was placed on your wood picnic table. Once lit, all that wood and Carling O’Keefe beer was, well, reason for concern. Just saying…

The time came to replace the burned-out hibachi and the charred picnic table. We upgraded to one of those round barbecues, which for stability the engineers decided rather than four legs three legs would do the trick. Duh!

“Gary, what are you doing with my hair dryer?”

“Dear, I am going to connect it to an extension card, plug it in the porch light fixture, and set it to ‘High.’ Before you can say I am blowin’ smoke, I will have white hot charcoal.”

“Gary, that sounds dangerous. Why don’t you do what the neighbours do and flail your arms for an hour holding a newspaper to get a flame?”

The ‘Rule of 3rd Degree Burns’ reads: ‘Allow 45-minutes to heat the charcoal until the temperature will scorch your steak to resemble the vinyl-coated Naugahyde seats of a 1972 Ford Pinto in 90-seconds!’

After a year of barbecue parties serving burnt offerings to our guests, the three-leg barbecue combusted and disintegrated into a pile of soot. It was time to replace with a propane gas barbecue with the latest features: ‘The Patented Built-in Automatic Lighter That Does Not Work’ and the ‘Rotisserie That Works Only The First Time.’ This barbecue came complete with a black rubber-like cover, that the first time I used it, melted into a black blob cloned overtop the barbecue. Jan took the opportunity to reiterate “Gary, the barbecue needs to be cool before you put the cover on top.”

The new ‘Patented Built-in Automatic Lighter That Does Not Work’ means you still strike a match to light the barbecue. Then, you close the lid and settle back in a lawn chair enjoying beer. The signal that your barbecue is hot is when the paint on the lid begins to melt, or, when the aluminum siding on your garage droops down into the hostas. However, now is not the time to put your steaks on the grill — first you need to refill the propane tank.

Not to brag, but throughout the years I have steaked my reputation on smoking our meat. I set out to barbecue a steak to medium rare and inevitably end up with a black-crusted strip steak resembling highway pavement!

The other day while waiting for the barbecue to heat, I said, “You know Jan, barbecuing is part science and part art.”

“Oh, Gary you forgot to mention part stupidity.”


Living Retired is written by syndicated humour columnist Gary Chalk.

Enjoy ‘Living Retired: The Radio Edition’ Friday mornings at 10:30 on The Mike Farwell Show on CityNews570.