JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

The Grill

Death row 'til I die. Now pass the buns.
Death row ’til I die. Now pass the buns.

This past weekend, the wife and I held a BBQ. About 40 people showed up—neighbors, family members, friends. I happened to have married the greatest cook of all time, and she went to town—prepared chicken, burgers, homemade potato salad, on and on and on.

“I’m gonna grill,” I said a few days beforehand.

She sorta grunted.

A few days later—”I’m gonna grill!”

Grunt. Grunt.

The day arrived. The BBQ began at 2. At 1:30 I said, “OK, I’m gonna turn on the grill.”

Confrontation ensued. She didn’t want me to grill. She wanted her dad—greatest griller of all time–to grill. But, dammit, I wanted to grill! It was my house, my grill, my spatula! I’ve been grilling all summer. Hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken! I can grill, man! I can really, really grill!

We sparred. It got sorta heated. Why, she finally asked, do you feel so compelled to grill? When you don’t do it so well? When an All-Star veteran griller is standing nearby? Why, why, why, why …

Then I realized the answer: Machismo.

Gasp!

I am, generally, a man lacking machismo. I’m not especially competitive. I don’t demand my son take extra BP in the yard. I don’t haul large pieces of lumber. I’d be thrilled for the wife to be our sole breadwinner. My muscles are pretty small. I love Wilson Phillips. I cried during Steel Magnolias. I do all the laundry.

But, for some reason, I needed to be the grill master. Fuck, I don’t even eat red meat. But I wanted to be holding that spatula, flippin’ burgers like a bad-ass mofo. I wanted people to come to me, buns flipped open, awaiting their carnage.

It was a strange and alien impulse; one that—in hindsight—is pretty humiliating.

Luckily, I found a way to move forward.

I just listened to this.