My husband's pride and joy, his black, wind-burned, smoke-scarred, rusted and battered barbecue grill is no more. And good riddance, too.
I sold it at a garage sale while my husband was away on a business trip.
"Here, take it," I told a nice young family who had eyed it for the two days of the garage sale and haggled me down to $25. "OK," I said. "It's yours. And don't forget to take the two gas tanks, the automatic rotisserie, the tongs and ratty mitts. They come with it." The man dug into his pocket, slapped $25 on the table and together the couple and their little boy carted my husband's barbecue grill out of my garden gate and into the sunset.
How I hated that ugly thing. How happy I was to see it go. It was an eyesore brand new when my husband rolled it onto the patio two years back as a surprise (that's when he discovered barbecue cooking). The thing lacked aesthetics. It was simply a hooded rectangular black box with a rusted white gas tank hooked onto its legs; a spare tank, also rusty, on standby duty on the floor. The tanks, leased from a U-Haul facility and connected with great effort, were like a wart on a witch's nose. Designwise, the grill resembled the Hunchback of Notre Dame on wheels.
'Serves a Purpose'
"Why don't they at least design a cover for that gas tank. It does nothing for my appetite," I said.
"It serves a purpose," my husband said. "I would be fanning coals if it weren't for the gas tank." My husband is an engineer, you see.
"But it's so ugly. It spoils the look of the garden. Couldn't you find a pretty barbecue grill? Something like the Japanese smoke ovens? A beautiful hibachi? Something with good lines. Like the Jaguar XKE."
"They don't come with gas tanks," he said. "Besides, I like this barbecue. It's functional."
So when he returned from his business trip, he did a double take at the vacant spot on the patio where his ugly hooded barbecue grill once had been.
"Wasn't there a barbecue grill at that spot?" he asked.
I had hoped he wouldn't notice.
"Yes," I said.
"Well, what happened to it?"
"I sold it in the garage sale."
He gave a nervous laugh.
"You sold my barbecue grill?
I shrugged. "It was ugly."
"It was ug . . .g . . .gh . . . ." The word stuck in his throat.
A Matter of Price
"How much did you get for it?" he finally said.
"You sold my barbecue grill for $25? But I paid . . ."
"That was two years ago. Remember, things have a way of devaluating."
"Not by 200%, they don't."
"You should have seen the young couple who bought it. They were so sweet."
"What else did you get rid of at this garage sale. You did save the gas tanks, I hope."
"Save the gas tanks? Why would I do a thing like that? They were the first to go. "
"And the rotisserie attachment?"
"And the ratty mitts," I added.
His eyes glazed over.
"Don't worry, I said, "I'll work on replacing it."
He didn't hear me. He staggered to his easy chair and stared into space, mumbling something about dollars, the inflated amount it would take to replace the same item today, and the wonderful barbecuing times gone by.
Some Good Moments
Come to think of it, there were some good moments over that ugly barbecue grill. My husband had become an expert on cooking butterflied lamb to perfection (cooking, not preparing it). He had learned to cook steaks rare, medium and well by placing the griddle at an angle, and cooking chicken without charring by placing them on the grill high above the coals. He knew how to steam-cook corn, grill home-grown baby eggplants and zucchini, and heat the garlic toast perfectly. He had become a time and motion expert on getting a fully barbecued meal on the table on time, and a wizard at cooking fish moist and tender, not a flake out of place.
He did all that, and now I had deprived him of pleasures of the grill.
So it was not without guilt that I studied the marketplace for a gas barbecue grill that I considered beautiful.
I'm still looking.
Built-in Barbecue Ideal
I'd personally settle for a gasless grill if the lines were good, but don't dare bring one home. A built-in gas barbecue grill would be ideal, but that would mean tearing up my beautiful patio. I've looked into hibachis, Japanese smoke ovens, high-tech grill tanks, and even found a barbecue grill that sells every barbecue grill brand known to modern man. Nothing.
So the barbecue season has come and gone without the wafting smells of minted lamb, roasted eggplants and herbed chicken; without, in fact, the smells of summer.
Am I sorry now?
If you happen to spot a for-sale ad in the local throw-away paper for a gas barbecue grill with rotisserie attachment, two rusty gas tanks, tongs and a ratty mitt, let me know, will you? LUAN'S BARBECUED BUTTERFLY LAMB
1 (4 to 5-pound) leg of lamb, boned and butterflied
4 to 6 cloves garlic, split
1 bunch fresh mint
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme