Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Our Turn To Make Dinner

The Dunnevant Beach Week contains a bizarre tradition first started by my mother, who after a particularly trying day had thrown up her hands at the prospect of preparing the evening meal with the now famous exclamation, "I'll be John Brown if I'm making dinner for this bunch of hulligans tonight. Either somebody else makes dinner or they can all starve to death!"  Thus launched the ill-fated let's all take turns making dinner for twenty people at the beach and call it a vacation gambit of 1991. The fact that it survives today is a towering monument to the power of inertia. It has become a permanent feature of this trip...not a bug, a feature! Last night was our turn.

I've got an idea, someone foolishly once said, why don't we just make hamburgers and hotdogs for our meal at the beach? That will be easy. And baked beans...everybody loves baked beans. It will be a cinch!

When financial writers know even less than they normally know about the direction of the stock market...that is to say, when their non-existent crystal ball is more opaque than usual they often trot out that rediculous formulation...the markets are currently struggling for direction. However, this worthless declaration makes--hamburgers and hotdogs will be easy to prepare at the beach--sound like a Princetonian doctoral dissertation. Here's how it all went down...

By 5:00 the situation was well in hand. Pam had everything organized to within an inch of its life. The table was set with fake Fourth of July finery. Pies had been made, secondary dishes were lined up on the huge kitchen island with ruthless assembly line efficiency. All that was left to do was slip the baked beans in the oven and fire up the grill to cook the burgers and dogs. I exited the kitchen out into the deck where the suspiciously new looking gas grill sat, arms loaded down with 16 burgers, 16 dogs, and six brats. The tank was filled with propane. I had a sweating glass of sweet tea in hand and was ready to put my 'Murika face on. I turned the dial counter clockwise, waited for the click, then listened for the whoosh. I took a confident sip of tea, then paused to admire the setting sun as I waited for the grill to heat up.

It was a long wait.

While, the tank was filled with gas, and the four elements all emitted flame, the heat that all of this produced wouldn't have been enough to melt a stick of butter. I could have jumped up on that grill naked without fear of getting burned. After twenty minutes it became clear that if anyone wanted to eat hamburgers and hotdogs this evening, an alternate plan would have to be devised.

Meanwhile, inside the kitchen, the baked beans caper was in full swing. Despite knobs that indicated that the gas oven was fully engaged, the two dishes of beans looked fresh as daisies after twenty minutes in close contact to allegedly fatal temperatures. Perhaps the particular type of gas pumped to this address was of a timid variety, propane which feels guilty for the damage it is doing to the planet and has decided to not cook stuff when asked!! To make Pam's situation worse, here I came marching onto the scene commandeering the entire surface of the stove for the purpose of frying hamburger. The popping, spitting grease storm that ensued made flipping these burgers a test of will, courage and endurance...Stand back..I'm going in!!! Godspeed, man!!

Dinner was eventually served, albeit forty minutes late. Everyone was complimentary. The burgers were actually pretty good. My blood pressure sat an all time record for the systolic reading, Pam's hands eventually stopped shaking, and we both take comfort in the knowledge that we won't have to do this again for two full years!