Feeling grill-ty


I’m everything that’s wrong with society. Perhaps that’s too strong a statement. I’m not everything wrong with society. I haven’t incited ethnic genocide. I don’t text and drive (only because I don’t have a cell phone). I’ve done absolutely nothing to encourage the likes of Taylor Swift. Let’s just say I’m a thing wrong with society and leave it at that.

A few weeks ago, I won a barbecue from the local IGA. It’s Stanstead’s only grocery store. Over the years, my family has shopped there faithfully, even though we live next door to Vermont. People look at us like we’re crazy when we tell them we never shop in the States. But I’ve always felt there’s something suspect about American food, meats in particular, something I can’t quite put my finger on, like maybe the meat is actually “meat,” or that someone really has put their finger on it.

Given my nationalist food prejudices and my loyalty to the local IGA, not to mention the thousands of dollars we’ve spent there over the years, I should have no qualms about winning the barbecue. One might even say my family earned it, much like the bag boys earn their tip every time they cart our groceries to the car. That’s right: our store still has bag boys who carry your groceries. Why the Town of Stanstead isn’t actively marketing this to encourage fresh settlers is beyond me.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if I had been able to quietly slip into the store, claim the barbecue and disappear into the night. But this is a small town, and people keep asking me, “Enjoying your new barbecue? How’s that new barbecue working out?” I heard it was even in the paper, but I didn’t see it. I sure hope when they referred to me they used the word “beloved” and not “nimrod,” like usual.

It didn’t help my case that we rattled the assembled barbecue out of the store and across the parking lot, thinking it would fit in the hatch of our Tucson with the seats folded down, which it almost did. It fit just enough that if I crawled in, faced backwards and held onto the blanket that we’d looped around the barbecue lid to keep it from flopping open, we could drive it home hanging out with the hatch door up, slowly, with the flashers on. That might have made the paper too, but I’m not sure.

And because it’s a small town, I can’t really lie. When people ask, “How do you like your new barbecue?” I can’t say, “Fine,” because the truth is I haven’t used it. The truth is my wife had just bought me a brand new barbecue for Father’s Day. I had used it twice when the store called to say I had won. Because it’s a small town, people will learn this eventually, so I have to tell the truth. Plus, it makes a good story, don’t you think? Everyone loves irony.

You know what else people love? Free stuff. And that’s where I’m a thing wrong with society. I didn’t need this free stuff. When I learned I had won the barbecue, I should have called the store back and said, “Look, thanks, but I just got a brand new barbecue. You should pick another name.” That’s what a beloved person would do.

But no. This free thing had been thrown in my lap (very nearly so, what with the bumpy ride home in the Tucson). Why should I let someone else have it? I had earned it. I had written my name on a piece of paper and answered a skill-testing math question (even though I’m quite sure that if I had had trouble with the question, the clerk would have leaned over and whispered, “20…”).

Now I have two barbecues. I have the Father’s Day barbecue, which I’m transforming with shocking speed into a charred mess, and the IGA barbecue, which is in the garage until I decide what to do with it: sell it, give it away to a charity, bequeath it to my children or just have it on hand for when I run my Father’s Day barbecue into the ground, which at this rate will be by September.

I felt entitled to my free barbecue, but it has made me no better off. If anything, it’s added complication and clutter to my life and my garage. I’m as bad as the audience of “Ellen” when they all get new televisions, and they scream and scream like they’ve just learned that science has finally made men obsolete.

The difference is that, with two barbecues, if I wanted to, I could grill a butt-load of beef.

Canadian, of course.




About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
This entry was posted in Canada and/or Quebec, Family - whadya gonna do?, It Really Did Happen! and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Feeling grill-ty

  1. Maybe it’s the universe’s way of saying it’s time to buy a second home. It’s going to need a barbecue.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      In fact, we’ve been putting much-needed work on the house, which is likely a sign that we’re going to move. So maybe I’ll just leave the current one behind, throw it in with the sale.
      P.S. I hate moving.

  2. ksbeth says:

    does this mean you are destined to go to double hell, grilling for satan? or that you simply need to build a bigger garage?

  3. Lynn says:

    I think this is a “man” thing, not being able to say no to a free BBQ? If it were my husband, his rationale would be that if one ran out of propane, he would have a second one right there as a back up! What about donating it to a charity?

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Yes, charity will likely be the way it goes. But which one? My wife was suggesting I give it to a family that over the winter was forced from their home due to fire, but I thought a barbecue would be far too cruel a reminder.

  4. Mick Theebs says:

    You won it. It’s yours to do with whatever you want.

    Is one charcoal and one propane?

    • rossmurray1 says:

      No, both propane. I still have my rickety charcoal grill that I’ve been using for the past eight years or so. I love it but it’s going to fall over on me. I also prefer charcoal but, in an age of instant gratification, propane wins.

      • Ok now. Let’s get this straight…One Father’s Day barbecue; one skill-testing-question barbecue; and now a rickety charcoal grill. I bet you have a stove top, too! And maybe a 40-year-old Hibachi hidden away in the camper somewhere? Time to come clean, Ross.

  5. Ned's Blog says:

    I’ll be bringing my own steaks.

  6. franhunne4u says:

    Invite all the neighbours for a free trial-grilling – they bring their own grill-goods, and when everyone has tested it, you can easily make them fill out forms, how it was, then you can make a pie-chart from that and print that out – so whenever somebody asks, you can hand out the pie chart.

  7. Neighborhood block party!

  8. Are they both on wheels? You could join them with a couple of 2×4’s to create your very own carbeque!

  9. kerbey says:

    As an American, I will try not to be offended by your suspicions of our meat. It did, however, remind me of just this morning: my son had read for 4 hrs and received a coupon from the city library for three free cookies at McDonald’s. In 4 decades, I’ve never eaten a McDonald’s burger, probably for the same fear you have. But we threw caution to the wind and drove there this morn. They had a “special”: a “sausage” McMuffin, hash browns, and coffee for $2. I don’t know what that is in Canada, but $2.50 is how much a glass of iced tea is anywhere else, so you can clearly see that $2 is cheap. Never eating there, I bit into the McMuffin with caution because I, too, don’t believe it came from an animal. I don’t think a pig had anything to do with it. I think Jewish people would do fine to eat there honestly. Are all the cows and chickens happy and free range in Quebec? Here in Texas, I see cows daily in fields, but I doubt I’m eating their friends.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Like most prejudices, mine is not rational. Maybe it’s the fear that the much-celebrated American hucksterism has infiltrated the meat industry. Canadian meat, I’m sure, is just as suspect, except the animals willingly go to slaughter while apologizing for being such a nuisance.
      McDonald Sausage is decidedly low on the food scale. I’m sorry for your loss.

      • kerbey says:

        Never having been to Canada, I think of it as a much cleaner place, so it only follows that meat would be cleaner. I will balance my loss out with arugula salad tonight.

  10. Elyse says:

    Give it to me. No questions asked.

  11. Paul says:

    As much as I pretend to be a BBQ expert (I mean after all you’re not a Man unless you’re a BBQ specialist) my record with them is not sterling. In my case, it would be perfectly expected that I would need a second BBQ in short order. Ha! I recall one day when I was boarding at a private home, the owner had told me that I was free to use their BBQ set up on the back deck any time I wanted – just ask. So, one day, I asked and the owners son wanted to be reassured that I knew whatI was doing “No problem” I replied. So his parting words were “Just don’t blow it up, Ok?” With a smile. 🙂 So I assembled my meat and such and proceeded to start the BBQ. It had an ignition buttton, so I turned on the gas, and pressed the button over and over and nothing happened. Sigh. So I turned off the gas, went and got some rolledup paper, turned on the gas and stuck the lit paper inside the BBQ. I found out later that propane is heavier than air and had apparently gathered in the bottom of the BBQ from my previous attempt. There was a big explosion that blew the racks out and shook the BBQ -then it went out. Fortunately I wasn’t harmed but it was scary. The owner’s son had been sitting in their kitchen just inside the deck doors. He leaned back in his chair, slid the door open and said “What was the last thing I just told you?” O_o

  12. markbialczak says:

    Why are you feeling so guilty, Ross? This is what, your third grill post since you won the thing? It’s yours. You won. It came assembled, I take it from your car-hauling story. Another reason to accept, in my book! Get over your misgivings. Keep the grill with no further thought, just because there are people on your block with no grills, neighbors now call you Daddy Two Grills and your daughter Abby will never be invited to another burger barbecue by her classmates. Let your guilt go, Ross!

    P.S. I think American animals and Canadian animals are cousins.

  13. pieterk515 says:

    Alanis captured this little twists of life perfectly in her song “Ironic.” Waiting forever to buy something, only to win the exact same thing one two days later…
    By the way, from one guy to another, I would’ve kept it too.

  14. nobsj says:

    Originally read this title as a play on “girly” and thought I was about to read a feminist take on bbq culture. YET ANOTHER THING WRONG WITH SOCIETY.

  15. pinklightsabre says:

    Two grills is kind of American. I have two: charcoal and gas. And sometimes I use both at the same time! Funny, over in Germany we saw many references to American grilling: men in posters donning knives, looking stern, with flames in the background. It’s like driving stick, man…the real deal.

  16. benzeknees says:

    I feel the same way about American beef – they seem to have a different standard for grading meat. I have always found American beef has too much fat in it & I have never enjoyed eating their steaks. I usually end up sticking with seafood for some reason.
    I think you should donate the BBQ to your local Lions Club or other charity who could use it to further their fundraising efforts, but that’s just me.

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