Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Grill Master

Today I am going back over old Magic writings and stripping out the Spanish stories to be included in the book. I had been looking for this entry a while ago, searched my hard drive and this web site and could not find the story where I first grilled for Wendy. I have told the story many times but could not find it in my writing.

Today - I found it.

This story happened shortly after I had moved to Spain and Wendy and I were still learning to live together. This is a story about the first time I used her grill to cook us some steaks. Some of you will have read it before, sorry. For those of you that haven't, I hope you enjoy it.

Here's how much I know how to cook. Wendy and I are at the grocery store today, and again they do not have my hard-boiled eggs. We have looked the last four times, and they are no longer stocked. This annoys me. I like to get up in the morning and have one packet of oatmeal and one hard-boiled egg. Good carbs. Good protein. Low calorie.

“That's it! I'm just going to boil some eggs when we get home. I'll make them myself.”

“Good idea. Then you can call your mom and tell her you learned how to cook.”

So funny, that girl.


Wendy and I are watching "Grey's Anatomy." Burke and Christina are refusing to speak to each other. They still live together. They are still in love. But whoever speaks first is wrong, and feels they are giving up power to the other. I pause the show.

“We can't have power struggles like that. You need to understand that I'm the man.”

“Right. Which means you apologize first. I'm glad we're clear on that.”

Wendy is lying in bed reading. I have just stepped out of the shower, combed my hair, and I'm drying myself off. In the process of doing so, I find a rogue chest hair, located on the top left hand corner of my chest, almost to the shoulder, it is silver, and six inches long. I'll have to have Wendy pluck that for me. I come out of the bathroom and ask Wendy

“Hey, want to see something gross?”
“Not if you ever want to have sex with me again.”

Beautiful and witty. Gotta love that.

Oh yeah, dinner time. One of the things I can do is cook steak on a grill. I have mastered that, being the voracious carnivore I am. Of course, at home, I have a gas grill, and Wendy has a charcoal grill that she doesn't know how to run. She usually has one of the men at her parties run it. Today it's my turn. (Hmm, I guess now it's always my turn.)

She has these little white “Charcoal Starter” briquettes that were used at her last barbeque in October. I was there for that, and they don't work very well. Stefan was working on getting those coals going for hours.

I'm not gonna let that happen. As a Leo, and a Man, my ego is fragile. I'm not going to be in charge of the grill, cooking for my woman for the first time, and have a fire that only “sort of” gets going.

I crack open these little briquettes, and the white saran wraps around them are crumbling in my hand. They are very old. And dried out. Well, these aren't going to last. And they're probably not very good, since they're dry. Might as well use them up.

I dump the half package of one into the bottom, open up the other package and dump that in too. (There are now about fifteen charcoal starter bricks in the bottom of the grill. You are supposed to use one. Maybe two.) Then I cover them with charcoal, and light it.

In minutes, a five-foot column of flame is roaring over my head. I'm six feet tall. The grill is about two feet tall. The flames from the grill are over my head. Wow. Now that's a fire! I pull the grill away from the side of the building. Sure, the building is stone, but it is hot.

The column continues to burn at that height for fifteen minutes. When it finally dies down even a little bit, the charcoal is a nice perfect grey color. Just the way it's supposed to be after about an hour and a half of smoldering. I have broken the land speed record for getting charcoal grey and ready for cooking.

“Wendy, I need the steaks!”
“What, already?

Ten minutes later, the steaks come out perfectly. Wendy is walking around near me with the portable phone talking with her boss, when the door buzzes (We're on the fourth floor in a locked building.)

Wendy answers it since I don't speak Spanish well enough yet.

“Firemen, open up.”
“What? Why?”

Wendy buzzes them in and I start to chuckle. I lift the lid off the grill. The steaks are perfect and there's no flame. Let's hope this goes well.

Soon, three men are at our door, puffing. Full gear. Oxygen masks on. One of them undoes his mask.

“Where's the fire?”
Wendy tells him. “There is no fire.”
“Two of your neighbors in different buildings called in a fire here…" He looks out onto the patio. "Oh, there it is.”

He smiles and walks over to the grill. I open the lid for him and he peers down at my perfect steaks.

“Smells good,” he says.

“Wendy, tell him we're sorry to make him come all the way up here, but we have extra for him and his men for their trouble.”

She does and he says, “That's very kind, but there isn't enough for everyone. There's more of us than you think.” He goes over to the edge of the terrace and points down.

Below us, are five fire trucks and an ambulance. And an army of men.

The three that came up chuckle, tell us it's no problem, and everyone leaves. Lucky lucky.

My steaks were delicious.


  1. I hadn't heard that story before. It made me grin from ear to ear :D

    Your storytelling is coming on brilliantly J, I think you've got much better since you moved to Spain. More concise, more descriptive. It's a pleasure to read your blog, though it'd be even better if it were updated more often :P

  2. Read it before, but doesn't it make you wonder about your chances of surviving a fire in a big building? The steaks were done by the time they got there, doesn't that mean you'd be dead?

  3. Note to self: Spaniards are afraid of fire.

  4. Too funny!! and such a guy! Jim would rather burn a weeks worth of newspapers than use those fire starters to start a fire. MEN!! get over it!! Me, I have the kids light the gas grill, and the pellet stove--you know teenagers and fire!

  5. I never tire of that story. Getting caught up with your blog again. Always grrrrreat reading.