What is Love?

It’s funny how attached people become to inanimate objects.  But start talking trash about a man’s truck, motorcycle, guitar, or gun, and see how quickly he rises to its defense.  I’ve felt this same attachment to all those things….My 2002 Silverado that I foolishly traded in on something newer, my 2005 Night Train that’ll go to the grave with me, The ’77 Les Paul Custom that I can’t seem to part with, and my ancient Mossburg 500 that I bought for a song.  

But as I’ve come to realize today is that I have a very strong, somewhat unnatural attachment to my gas grill.

The year was 2003.  I was making a decent living and had just bought a new house in a nice neighborhood.  I moved my cheap Char-Broil that I’d had for 4 or 5 years with me.  It wasn’t a bad grill.  I’d learned all of its idiosyncrasies and foibles, and I could cook a damn good steak on it.  But the poor thing was falling apart, and the move certainly did it no good.

So it needed replacing, but with what?  With credit card in pocket, off to Sears (if they don’t have it, you don’t need it) I went.

I remember my father standing over his Weber kettle, Kool clamped between his lips as he flipped our burgers, telling me that when it came to barbecues, nothing beat a Weber.  Those words echoed in my head as I looked down the aisle of shiny new gas grilles.  They were all pretty much variations on a theme until I saw her….

Her stainless steel skin gleamed under the harsh fluorescents, differentiating her from the rows of plain, BBQ-Black grilles.  She had an actual name – Summit Silver B – rather than just a bunch of letters and numbers.  She had 4 burners and a side burner!  She had doors underneath for storage!  She had a folding side-table!  Sure, I pretended to look at other grills, but deep down I knew I was taking her home.  While I thought she was breathtakingly expensive at around $800, I had to have her.

I got her home, wrestled her up on the deck, and got her good and seasoned, then through a pair of steaks on…..Nirvana.  Everything I’d grilled before paled in comparison to those two ribeyes.  She held heat so well, and with an honest-to-God thermometer I could consistently get my desired results, rather than just guessing and using a timer.

I grilled all summer long.  I grilled through the winter.  I grilled in the snow, the rain, the wind, and the hail.  The Summit just kept on making me look like a grilling genius.

And then I thought I lost her.  Divorce is never a fun thing, but it’s made worse by having to divide up and part with things that you’ve grown accustomed to.  I mean sure, I could have just bought another grill….But this was my grill.  I tried not to act too excited when it appeared on the list of things I was allowed to keep.

But dammit, I was excited.

The poor thing sat idle for the better part of 2 years, and then came back out like a debutant.  Two years in storage and a couple of moves hadn’t had any effect on her.  She fired right up with no complaints and kept on making delicious dinners.

That was over 6 years ago.  In the time since, the years have worn on her.  Her stainless steel isn’t quite as shiny.  Her paint is fading and flaking in a few places.  Her ignitors stopped working.  Her grates were corroded and falling apart.  2 years ago, thinking she was done in, I took to the internet to start shopping for a new grill.  Time marched on, and there were a bunch of new whiz-bang features available.  Sear burners, built-in smoker boxes and rotisseries, and infrared burners were all the rage.  And of course the prices had risen a more than commensurate amount.

I just couldn’t do it.  I ended up finding a place that sold Weber parts for obsolete grills and replaced just about everything on her.  For a little over $100 and an afternoon of work, I was able to freshen her up and keep her going.  And so it’s gone since then.

Last night I did up a couple of steaks for Valentine’s Day.  I went out in the snow and the wind and fired up my faithful companion, only to hear an evil hiss, and smell the awful odor of propane.  She dutifully fired up and maintained her temperature despite the 30-degree air and the 30mph wind, but I could tell she wasn’t feeling right.  We always know when the ones we love aren’t well.

So again, I considered replacing her.  She has, after all, lived a very full, productive life, and I’ve certainly gotten my money out of the initial purchase and subsequent rehabbing.  But I just can’t do it…..Again.  The thought of taking her to the dump is unacceptable.  And I can’t stand the thought of someone else using her.

So there’s a box of parts coming to me this week.  Hopefully that does the trick for a few more years.

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