The rain was slapping sheets of rain on the sidewalk and streets in front of my home and the sky was getting darker. But the smoke was steaming off the barbecue grill I had just lit under the chicken, burgers and salmon steaks I just defrosted from the "ice box." Okay, I call it the "ice box" and my 10 year old constantly reminds me of my age.
"Dad, that's what they called the refrigerator in the olden days?"
Yes, I replied. And in the olden days we didn't surrender to the weather or let Mother Nature get in the way of enjoying a Memorial Day weekend barbecue. Rain, sleet or snow, the barbecue must glow!
This has been the worst Memorial Day of any I can remember. Yes, we have had rain on this holiday remembrance of the veterans who have served our country, but there was always a day of hot sun tucked in between the thunderstorms. None was as bad as this weekend, one not even predicted by the often inaccurate weather forecasters. (I'd call them weathermen but 1 - it reminds me of the 1960's terrorists or 2 - most of the so-called weathermen are actually weather women, so much the better for that. Where's Michelle Leigh when you need her?)
So as the wind howled and the trees swung from side to side. As the puffs of gray smoke-like clouds sailed low above the swaying tree tops. As the lightning flashed and then seconds later the thunder boomed. And as the rain spit down soaking my head and shoulders, I pulled out the brand new spatula and kept wiping it clean as I turned the chicken on the low grill; then flipped the steak on the middle grill and then shuffled the middle grill. It was Memorial Day, damn it and I was going to enjoy my barbecue!
The crows were shaking under the trees hiding from the piercing rain drop missiles. But I refused to budge. It was the first real holiday of the impending summer and I wans't about to change my annual backyard hejira. (Look it up. It may be an Arab Muslim word, but it has meaning pal.)
The barbecue was ready to be grilled and I wasn't going to let it down. Over the past five weeks, all I have been doing was paying homage to the barbecue grill. Cleaning it off. Replacing the old grills with new ones. Swapping the gas tanks at Lowes -- I always have an extra one for that inevitable moment when the tank runs out of gas and the flame fades away into that barbecue heaven in the sky. Two minutes and we're back in the business with the new tank.
It was supposed to be a picnic. Where the hell was the sun? But I didn't care as I shivered in the arctic late May wind. It's going to be June in a few days. Don't you have any respect for Father's Day?
Puddles formed in the yard as the fast rain began to slowly flood. Thankfully, Orland Park installed new sewer and rain pipes in the street to help prevent another deluge that destroyed the home. It won't happen again I vowed with my aluminum pincers waving high and mightily above my dripping dreadlocks of short black and graying hairs.
We're not going on a vacation to the Caribbean this summer as we always do because airline tickets have risen so much -- and it's Ca-rib-bean not Care-a-be-yan. Gte it straight when you announce the third Johnny Depp pirate film. I'm just going to stand in my backyard and enjoy an hour of grilling and then a few minutes to devour the charred food.
-- Ray Hanania