I went to the Superstore a couple of weeks ago where I got sidetracked by the ‘clearance’ cart in the housewares section.
There was a teeny tiny grill. Marked down to some unknown amount. It was bright yellow. And adorable. And surely just the thing for wintertime grilling. Or marshmallow roasting without the hassle of trying to light charcoal in a grill twenty times the size?
It spoke to me as John Cage from Ally McBeal might have said. So I bought the grill.
At checkout I learned the grill cost $3.44. Suddenly, I loved it even more.
But there is, of course, the matter of lighting a grill. And the fact that I’ve never in all my thirtysome years lit any sort of grill. And the professor, who is our resident light-er, was playing soccer in Cochrane. And I had marshmallows. And the Hen had been so excited when I’d shown him my adorable yellow grill and intimated that it was small enough that I might let him roast his own marshmallows.
So I did what people in this day and age do when they face a conundrum of any kind.
I put it on Facebook. ‘So…..lighting a grill, how would one go about that?’
Soon enough, I had answers. What I love about Facebook, even more than the immediate responses, is that you get responses from a very random cross-section of those you call friends.
The Professor’s-cousin’s-husband replies: ‘Charcoal, lighter fluid, match.’
It seemed so obvious. But of course he had no idea that I’ve never lit anything on fire. And that I didn’t have any lighter fluid.
I reply: ‘If one had no lighter fluid, what would one do?’
Professor’s-Cousin’s-Husband replies: ‘Order a pizza.’
Which was, of course, a funny reply. Except ordering pizza won’t roast my marshmallows.
I reply: ‘That is the wrong answer!’
Friend-from-university-who-lives-in-Japan replies: ‘This could get dangerous! I have a feeling you are going to be eyebrow-less! What else do you have on hand that is flammable? (are you sure that there isn’t lighter fluid in your briquets? That is the kind we usually buy.)
I reply, fairly certain we don’t have lighter-fluid-laced-briquettes: ‘paper? magazines?’
Calgary-friend replies: ‘Husband.’
Begging the question – is the husband the thing-that-is-flammable….or should the husband figure out the grill. Neither option being available to me since David Beckham Himself is in Cochrane, undoubtedly trying to score 9 goals so he can become his league’s top scorer.
Mother-in-law replies: ‘One time it took Dennis (father-in-law) and Ron Farnum two hours to get it going – using newspaper, leaves, alcohol (keep the kids away) and once started even a hairdryer to keep the flame going!!!! It was a late supper. I hope you have much better luck!’
[This would explain why the professor keeps the hairdryer in the kitchen when he goes to light the grill.]
Friend-living-in-Japan replies: ‘Alcohol?! Better get the fire dept on speed dial!’
Mother-in-law explains: ‘They have much better briquettes in north america than where we were.’
[That would be Bolivia. And possibly even the jungle.]
Cloaked with blind optimism, and with matchbook in hand, I venture outside to light something on fire. I steal briquettes from the ‘big’ grill. I dump them in the little grill. I tear up pieces of paper and scatter them on and around the briquettes. I light match. Upon match. And the fueled-by-paper-only fire lasts roughly 2.1 seconds before vanishing in a tiny heap of charred remnants.
I fear our neighbors, whose kitchen looks out onto our deck, are making a youtube video of me; useless mother-of-three. Trying to light a grill. Sort of like those youtube videos of septuagenerians trying to get a webcam to work. I’m faced with a choice: defer marshmallow roasting until the next day when the soccer star will be home. Or toast a marshmallow in 2.1 seconds.
I decide to try the 2.1 second approach. It chars the Hen’s marshmallow and leaves Percy’s virtually pristine. The Gort is playing Lego in the basement, missing out on all the fun.
I return to my computer to report on my progress. ‘Well, the village has failed me on this one. Looks like I won’t get to check ‘light a grill’ on my bucket list.’ And then I wonder if people will think that’s my subtle way of saying I’m actually dying very soon. So I try again: ‘All that to say – I’m alive and my marshmallows untoasted.’
Which doesn’t really address the potential-terminal-diagnosis.
Friend-from-Japan replies: ‘Funny! We recently got a new grill and my darling (somewhat overly organized) husband, wrote me out a list of 21 Easy Steps to Good Grilling! Lucky me…. I have filed it in the ‘for better or for worse’ category of our married life….’
I laugh because I try to picture the professor writing me a list of 21 Easy Steps to do anything. Overly organized is definitely not how I would describe him.
My mother replies (undoubtedly seconds away from calling me and asking me not to light a grill ‘until Jason gets home’): ‘and you have eyebrows so that’s good. Stay away from lighter fluid. You need one of those little chimneys, newspaper, and charcoal. P.S. I switched to gas because it was too hard to light the charcoal grill.’
Even my mother lights grills. Or at least turns a switch to light a grill. (I’m not really sure how gas grills work, either.)
Friend-from-Minneapolis adds her two cents: ‘I would have suggested Aqua Net, but since keeping your eyebrows is important to you…’
She’s funny. And then I laugh because I don’t own any hair products.
Friend-from-graduate-school-who-lives-in-Minnesota offers help: ‘We use one of those “chimneys” too (a round metal cylinder with a grate in the middle to separate the coal from newspaper), but we still struggle sometimes.’
[I didn’t know about the whole ‘separating the coal from the newspaper’ bit. I thought the paper should touch the coals…so as to light the coals on fire?]
Friend-from-university-who-lives-in-Colorado replies: ‘I once used half a SAM’s club sized bottle of Jack Daniels. I learned not to do that a second time! Man that was a lot of booze ….’
Friend-from-Japan who also knows friend-from-Colorado replies: ‘That was an expensive fire, Rachel! Did you manage to retain your eyebrows?’
Childhood best friend from the third grade replies: ‘I am disappointed. You were born and raised in South Africa.’
The professor walked through the door shortly after 9pm. Having taken a concussion-ed teammate to the hospital.
‘How do you light a grill?’ I ask. He looks at me suspiciously. ‘What do you mean?’ ‘How do you light a grill,’ I try again.
I retrieve my tiny grill from outside and show him my latest acquisition.
‘You need to keep the paper and the coals separate,’ he concludes.