I had an old fashioned marriage. My husband did all the guy things and I did the traditional female stuff, partly because he was raised in a certain way. At one of our extended family gatherings, he got up to do dishes and his dad said, “Sit down, son, there’s women here for that.” I left the moment of truth telling to Clarence and his dishcloth-wearing brothers in law.
On a particular evening, (after fourteen years of marriage) he was heading out to play hockey with his team, the Bears, and he wondered why I had never washed his equipment. Let me be clear. I dated hockey players (You couldn’t help it…they were everywhere) but I was not one, nor were any of my family members. As far as I was concerned, Clarence wore skates, shoulder and knee pads, and a jersey. His stuff was always stored in the garage or laundry room and I paid it no attention. As he pulled his things out of the bag, they all seemed to retain his body shape. The tee shirt was so stiff, you could have used it as a weapon. As for the jock strap and towel, well. Let’s just say we bought him some new things. ‘You could have told me,’ I said. ‘I would have washed them for you.’
“Some of the guys were starting to complain,” he said soberly, holding the solidified clothing. We had a laugh and let it go.
I say all this to tell you the following. I never manned the barbeque until Clarence died, (note the gender expressed here) since it has always frightened me. I know the basics, but once the automatic ignition button stopped working, I only used it when my youngest daughter, Mari, was in town. ‘You light the fire and I’ll take cover,’ I said more than once. We both wished for matches that were at least 18 inches long. When she moved away, that was the end of barbequed food for me.
The last person to use it was my son in law, Bob. I told him it wasn’t working and he said, gazing at it with the kind of look you’d give a dead zombie, “I think it just needs a good cleaning.” This was a bit like my lack of experience with hockey equipment. I thought barbeques self cleaned every time you fired them up.
Since I’m planning on cooking for family today, I decided to give it a scrubbing. But first I had to examine it. Even rudimentary technologies like barbeques puzzle me, placing me in the ‘always a caveman, never an engineer,’ category of human. I mean, I read books about scientific things, but they don’t say anything about how barbeques work, probably assuming that most people read the instructions. Ours were long gone.
As I took it apart, I could see that the bottom was filled with ashes similar to horror movie remains, along with broken metal parts lying forlornly along the bottom. Wearing my white pants and a nice top (as my mother would say, you’re just like your father. You never change your clothes for the dirty work) I scraped out the ashes and filled a bucket with hot soapy water to wash the thing down. After ruining my kitchen scrubbing brush and floor brush, the grill didn’t look too bad. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, either.
There were several potential reasons for this.
A. I have a hard time telling if the gas cannister is empty. (I need to buy a gas monitoring thingy.)
B. Maybe I’ve hooked it up wrong.
My neighbor Gerry paid a visit and we discovered I’d turned the knob the wrong way on the tank. In my defense, I wasn’t wearing reading glasses. However dinner turns out and even if the bottom of the barbeque doesn’t fall out, I know I’ll be buying a new one very soon. And a gas monitoring thingy.