Grilling in the presence of one’s own father, without his unsolicited assistance, is unlikely to happen in a human lifetime. Even if the opportunity somehow presented itself, would a mortal being be able to handle the enormous pressure of that transcendent moment?
Grilling requires a zen-like focus, fastidious time management, and elevated poise when the heat is literally and figuratively on. Are you (yes, you) prepared to execute such an undertaking while a six-foot tall human gnat flitters behind you, scrutinizing your every move? And since you find yourself related to that human gnat, how do you ignore his curmudgeonly buzzing without flicking him into next Tuesday? They say the best offense is a good defense, but how do you play the necessary defense without coming off as, well, offensive?
This Father’s Day, you are officially double-dog dared to attempt this match-lit rite of passage. It will take stamina, cunning, confidence, forethought and grace: qualities you’ve never been great at displaying, but here goes nothing.
Phase One: The Pitch
Your dad’s a great guy. He is there when you need him most. He works hard, and still makes time for the people in his life. His jokes are so uniquely corny that, somehow, he’s the funniest person you’ve ever met. Seriously, he’s the cold pizza of joke tellers: late on the initial delivery, but somehow insanely better the next day.
By and large, you’ve been a well-meaning, if slightly disappointing, child. Your dad would never make you feel that way however, and you’re very grateful for that.
To show your appreciation, you decide you want to give him the gift of a day off. A day where he doesn’t have to be in charge of anything, including what’s for dinner. You’re gifting him some relaxation by applying your acquired grilling skills to show him, if but briefly, that you were actually listening when he taught you a thing or two.
He will almost assuredly not see it this way. In fact, he will very likely see this as an affront to everything he has worked for his entire life. He will ask how he so wronged you as a child to deserve this type of punishment.
It is crucial that, from this point on, you have all of the answers, as even a moment’s hesitation will leave you vulnerable to being overtaken before you’ve even had a chance to pour the coals.
At this juncture, it is important to let your dad know the following:
This is not an intervention. He has not done anything wrong. In fact, in many cultures throughout history, acts of service have been commonly accepted as a demonstration of respect, and not a form of hostile mutiny.
You are a capable person. In fact, he probably helped you become this way. This will momentarily throw him off-balance as he tries to find the verbiage to refute you.
You actually could use some help opening this Man Crate. Again, yes, this is supposed to be a gift, but a little Trojan horse nomenclature helps you get to your intended result with less fatherly resistance. Present him with his crate and refocus his energies on prying open its lid with the attached crowbar. It’s amazing how successful this simple pivot can be at getting your Father’s Day back on course.
You remove the top of the crate to reveal the contents of the Steaks on a Plate Crate. If you and your dad have made it this far: congratulations, you have completed Phase One and, in doing so, have made it further than most.
Phase Two: The Prep
At this point, your dad has pried open his Man Crate and, in doing so, unwittingly signed off on the agreement that you will be spearheading this grill campaign. Don’t get too comfortable: this peaceful caesura will not last.
You now understand that the day will be a series of litigated compromises, designed for your dad to peripherally contribute in his own way while still allowing you to complete your initial objective of running point on some Father’s Day grilling.
The first of these distractions is to send your father on a hunt for a single AAA battery for your Steak Station Digital Meat Thermometer. He will initially resist the idea that any machine could measure a steak’s preparation better than his own intuition, but will eventually stoop to trust the process and seek out a Duracell. This offers you enough time to light the grill and prep your station.
Your next task to offer him is to ‘dress’ your potatoes: not only with some olive oil and a salt rub, but with your Potato People stainless steel prods. These will allow your taters to stand on their own two feet on the grill and aid in a shorter cook time, while decking out your spuds in some studly duds. By this point, your first cuts of meat should be well on their way to medium rare.
This is about the time that your dad will be champing at the bit for a little time in front of the grill, and given that it’s his day, it will be hard to resist. Throw him a bone by allowing him to season your steaks with the Jacobson Salt Co. Seasoning Salt. At this point, all hope of maintaining your position as Grill Master is all but lost, so you might as well grab a couple beverages for the two of you and enjoy your new demotion.
Phase Three: Presentation
“This thermometer is actually pretty accurate.” Your dad will literally say this as he cuts into one of the steaks to check its progress. You smile to yourself, and hold the the pan as he transfers his meaty masterpieces.
You set the table with your new Curtis Lloyd Steak Knife Set and are not surprised when everyone comments that your steaks cut like butter. Your dad beams as he is complimented on his grilling and adds, “I might have had a little help.”
Now that your plan has failed
In retrospect, you should have known that there was no way of keeping your dad away from the grill. The gravitational pull is far too strong for any susceptible dad to resist. To stand in between a man and his true calling is a fool’s errand, and though you fell short of your initial objective, you recognize that the greater good prevailed.
As you somehow find enough room for dessert, you find yourself thinking that perhaps your wish to grill for your dad was not to keep him away, but to spend some quality time alongside him, with the knowledge that he couldn’t resist the waft of smoke and dancing flames for long. And you realize that this might have been your true intention all along.