On Memorial Day morning some people visit cemeteries and some, as I did, get teary-eyed at breakfast reading news stories of dead World War II soldiers and veterans, of whom my father was one. Afterwards, we barbeque. That’s when I got mad at my husband.
I took the cover off the gas grill, lifted the lid and wanted to cry again. Things were falling apart. After a couple of trips back and forth and major excavation under the laundry room sink, I had the cooking rack soaking in oven cleaner on a pile of newspapers. While it was soaking, I went online to find out if I could find a replacement part for the thingie that went over the flame. If my husband were alive, I could have said, “John, the thingie that goes over the flame is falling apart; it looks like something I crocheted when I was a child,” and he’d make half a dozen trips to hardware stores, swear a lot, and replace all the innards in time for dinner because, in my world, grills are guy stuff. My father expertly cooked steaks on the charcoal grill; my husband cooked not quite as expertly on the gas grill, not that I cared because I don’t much like steak, anyway.
Instead I spent half the day on line figuring out that the thingie is the heat plate and where to get one for my make of grill (Florida!) and where to find the model number and, after all that searching, a rock grate with ceramic or lava rocks would cook more evenly; but the burner might be on its way out; and the grill could use a new cooking grid—not rack, grid, also. As for the built-in ignitor, I gave up on that a couple of months after I bought the grill. Who knew there are huge manuals just for ordinary maintenance? I’m supposed to poke at the holes in the burner with a paper clip? And even though I now know exactly which burner to order, I know I won’t be able to figure out the tubes and wires connected to it. That would be the spouse’s job. I would rather clean toilets.
After ten years of widowhood, this is my compelling reason for wanting to remarry or at least find a reliable, constant companion. “Honey, something’s wrong with the grill,” I’d say and he’d go fix it while I work on other important structural problems like buying shoes or matching wall paint. Of course, this imaginary friend would have to like Airedales. I can give up grilling but there isn’t one person among the 6+ billion on this planet for whom I’d give up Airedales.
One trip to a store netted me an adjustable heat plate. Standing in an aisle stocked ten feet high and three bus-lengths long with barbeque equipment, I realized that my previous search for the thingie had been conducted in the wrong season, last fall when the stores decide nobody will grill anything until next summer. There was, of course, no rock grate. The trip took two hours because I got distracted by sandals (on sale!), a long chat with another lady who was trying on sandals, lawnmowers, and Seattle’s Best Coffee (on sale!).
Back home I put my son on burger watch while I wrested lettuce from the slugs to make salad. In a clever move, he burnt the meat so that it wouldn’t drip through the sourdough bread we used in place of buns. I had forgotten all about buying buns. There’s just so much one person can do.