Monday, April 21, 2008

The MacGuyver Chickens

“…St. Peter don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go…”

46 ain’t what it used to be. It used to be old. Mid-40s guys in the movies when I was a kid were always these desperate, graying, cresting-the-hill geezers in bad suits, but most of my peers seem to be plugging right along at about a mental 28 or so. Our bodies are beginning to betray us right on schedule, but in our minds – unlike earlier generations – we have yet to accept the fact that we have more of our lives behind us than ahead of us.

But this post, reliably, is not about my peers or anyone else, it’s about me. I’ve lived long enough to know that unless there is videotape or I write it down right away, the details of this sort of thing (a pleasant day spent with friends during which catastrophes of my own making were repeatedly narrowly averted) will be lost to me. It’s one day later, and already I’m hearing details from yesterday and going, “Oh yeah, that’s right, that was funny!” not to be polite, but because I’d already forgotten the particulars described, so I really am hearing it for the first time.

In the example above, The Missus reminded me of how I took a big bite of chicken right after being asked to blow the candles on the birthday cake out, with every apparent intention of blowing the candles out somehow around the mouthful of chicken. (Cooler heads prevailed.)

Bear in mind, I wasn’t even drunk. Yes, I had taken a quick trip to the herbal remedy cabinet, but that was hours earlier, when I hadn’t even almost set the yard on fire yet.

Having people around and being the enter of attention is like being drunk to me. I get glib and my gestures get broad and I don’t really care about what kind of havoc I wreak. Fire is funny – heh heh heh. As long as all eyes are on me.

This is why I isolate myself, and have created a life-situation wherein I am rarely the center of attention. Work from home, concentrate on The Man Cub. Better for everyone.

But we had a few friends over yesterday, and the boy was sick and low-profile for most of the afternoon, and I had a task to complete that involved fire and a willing audience…

Actually, the morning was rough. The boy has some kind of hideous creeping baby crud. Crusty green crap accumulating all around his eyes and nose and he was miserable. Fussy, contrary, short-tempered, clingy; every usually sweet behavior replaced by an unpleasant one. Hanging off us and barking “Nose!” every time he wanted a Kleenex for his runny nose, which was about every minute, minute and a half. All morning was spent dealing with him.

Our first guest, Cliz, called to tell us she was running late just about when the boy got a second wind. For the next few hours he up and running and all was right with the world. I was relieved; Cliz doesn’t get here that often since she moved several hundred miles away, and I was happy she got to experience the fun son, not the logy lad. Eventually, however, it was naptime for the boy and time to start the BBQ…

Disclaimer: I’m as notoriously good at making fire as I am bad at applying it constructively. Yesterday was no exception.

When the full contingent of invited guests had arrived (3 people, one dog) I set about the BBQing duties. We don’t use lighter fluid because The Missus doesn’t like it. I think it’s an Environmental thing, you know? So we have a metal tube with a handle (inset), and you put charcoal in the top of the tube and newspaper in the bottom and light the newspaper, which gets the charcoal going and like that.

So I made the pretty fire, the charcoals did what they were supposed to do and then we waited till they were almost ice-cold before putting the chicken on the grill. So by the time The Missus was serving up the accessory vittles, I was out in the back yard, staring down the trio of insouciant, uncooked chicken breasts and making more new fire to try again to cook them. The problem was, when I lit the fire-tube the first time, I had an empty grill to place it down on and let it do its thing. I forgot about that step the second attempt, so when I went to put the flaming tube down, the grill was already full of uncooked chicken breasts. I looked around for another safe surface I could place the now-roaring firetube down on, and finding none in the dry grass around the BBQ, I raced for the small slab of concrete at the back door as the flaming chunks of newspaper fell out of the bottom of the tube.

I managed to kick the fiery mess – fiery messes – onto the concrete and with Cliz’s help, stamp them out. Big laughs. It was at this point that it became clear to me, I was dealing with some serious fucking MacGuyver chicken breasts here. These things were not going to go down without a fight, and they didn’t care how much danger they placed me in in their efforts to escape the grisly fate I had in mind for them.

So I made my third pretty fire of the afternoon (as Cliz warmed up the oven, “just in case”), and placed the tube down on the grill, where we had made a space for it (see previous inset) since my second attempt. All things worked great, and soon I was ready to toss the burning charcoals under the chicken with their spent brethren. I picked up the tube, Cliz lifted the chicken-laden grill, and I tossed in the fresh charcoals. After the grill was back in its place, I noticed there was a pile of burnt newspaper ash still on it, next to the chicken breasts.

Before Cliz could cry out “NO!!” I leaned over and attempted to blow the ashes off the grill, and instead, of course, ended up blowing them all over the damned uncooperative MacGuyver chicken breasts instead. Guests inside the house reacted with predictable horror, even the vegetarians who weren’t planning on eating any of them anyhow. I tried to pick the ashes off using a pointy BBQ utensil and only ended up spreading them like a lead-laced newspapery glaze across the surface of the finally-cooking chicken motherfuckers…

Eventually, a piece of chicken emerged that was both fully cooked, and ash-free (left). I ate it right away just in case something else happened and the rest of the chickens escaped my wrath.

After the ashes incident, Cliz took over the BBQing duties… and I didn’t make another mistake until it came time to blow out the birthday candles. But at least now you can understand why I didn’t want to stop eating those damned chickens even long enough to blow out my birthday candles. Plus remember: good with starting fires, inexpert at everything that comes after, including putting them out.

After dinner, Cliz favored us with a short acoustic guitar performance, The Man Cub perked up, and best of all, the MacGuyver Chickens were good and cooked and either consumed or waiting in the fridge to be ignored and thrown away sometime next month when they go bad.

If it wasn’t for my help, a good time would have been had by all instead of just me. Thanks, everybody!


Blogger ClizBiz said...

I think your full name should be "Fang Hilarity-Ensued Bastardson."

I had a terrific time and despite his sickness, the Man Cub's charms were pretty dang evident.

Next time, I bring my iPod AND a video camera, if nothing else, for insurance purposes.

8:13 PM

Blogger Mark Dowdy said...

Happy belated birthday, Fang!

You lovable rascal, you.

9:48 AM


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