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.


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.

1 thought on “The Grill”

  1. There’s something magnetizing about a grill. Some of my best memories from family trips were grilling large quantities of food for everyone. Heck, I just got married a month ago and the one request I had was to grill the meat for supper. Several times, people came up to me saying, “it’s YOUR day and YOU’RE doing the grilling?!” A handful of male guests volunteered to take over for me, I suspect, because they wanted to do it, not to simply relieve me from it (must be machismo, as you suggest in this story). I responded that I was doing the grilling BECAUSE it was my day. Unconventional as it may be for the groom to double as the chef, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way!

    I’m glad to see you have the same pull to the grill. We all have it, in varying degrees. It’s best not to fight the instinct, so grab the spatula and enjoy the summer!

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