Monday, April 16, 2012

The Park Grill

     Let's consider the park grill today, Company.  Even though it is snowing outside of my window as I write this, it is Tax Day, and in most major cities across America there are long lines of people waiting to get their tax returns postmarked April 16th, lest they be late.  Never mind that they have had their W-2 forms since at least the end of January, or that the post office generally won't postmark your letter or cancel a stamp at the counter anymore.  That is now done two truck rides and two hundred miles away, at least that's how it is for the remote compound that is the Worldwide Headquarters.  But I digress, I have lost track.  The point of all this rambling is that we are at the point in the year when it is or should be spring, and it is time to look forward to summer and the delights that it beings.
This is what I am talking about.
     One of the most ubiquitous things in my part of the world are those little single fixed municipal park grills that you see in every town and county park along the side of the road.  You know the ones that I am talking about.  They have a single pole that they stand on, and there is a sort of grate that has adjustable levels so you can cook like right on top of the coals or slightly less on top of them.  The grate always has such wide slats that anything will fall through, and the slats themselves are usually huge and rounded so that they aren't able to make any of those classic grill marks on anything that you put on them.
     Who uses those things?  They are without exception always dirty as sin being covered with a mixture of grease and oil and ash and God knows what else.  99% of the time they are standing empty but there is always some sort of evidence of use in every single one of them.  But you never actually see anyone using them.  Sometimes you can see that some stupid kids were just burning anything flammable in one, and other times you just see huge piles of ash.
      I have used them, on more than one occasion.  Thinking about the paragraph above, especially the part about how dirty they are, I wonder why I have used them and how I was willing to eat something that had touched them, but they are actually pretty handy.  You still have to haul all the charcoal and lighter fluid with you, but they are a lot more convenient than carrying around a little Weber, or a generator and your George Foreman grill.  They work pretty well too, and the really nice thing is that if you go about them correctly you can make a nice large surface to cook on.  The downside is that you can't usually build up a gigantic pyramid of coals to get them started, so sometimes you don't have enough coals to cover all that cooking surface.  I tried to make corn on the cob on one of those grills once and it took me approximately 16 years to get them done.  I tended them constantly and half of them turned out burned and half of them turned out raw.  But they work okay for burgers and dogs and that kind of fare.
     What really blew me away was that they still sell these things.  Sometimes I go down to City Hall and steal some of the magazines and catalogs that get sent there, and one of them is a catalog that is aimed at selling things to municipalities.  They have things like park benches and speed bumps and garbage cans.  They also sell those little park grills and I can't but help to wonder why.  There are like fifteen unused ones in every park in America, who could possibly be needing to buy and install more?  Where is there a park that is wanting for those things anywhere?  I beseech you to show me a park where there is a line of people waiting for their turn at the park grill.  Dad standing with his kids, peeking out around the shoulders of the people in front of them trying to see what is taking so long.  Think ticket line for the big concert but with a park grill at the front.  Is that hard for you to visualize?  That is because that scene has never occurred.  Ever.
     So there they are.  And that is that.  Next time you are cruising past the park take a look around, I guarantee you that there is at least one of them somewhere in the park.  And if there isn't then there is one at the next park down the block.  But I defy you to see someone using one.  But then again, summer is coming, so you never know.

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