[thechat] The BBQ

Isaac Forman isaac at triplezero.com.au
Wed Jan 23 17:01:31 CST 2002



Griff was at the barbecue and Joel was at the barbecue and I was at the
barbecue; three men standing around a barbecue, sipping beer, staring at
sausages, rolling them backwards and forwards, never leaving them alone.

We didn't know why we were at the barbecue, we were just drawn there like
moths to a flame. The barbecue was a powerful gravitational force, a

Joel said the thin ones could use a turn, I said yeah I reckon the thin ones
could use a turn, Griff said yeah they really need a turn -it was a
unanimous turning decision. Griff was the Tong- master, a true artist, he
gave a couple of practice snaps of his long silver tongs, SNAP SNAP,before
moving in, prodding, teasing, and with an elegant flick of his wrist,
rolling them onto their little backs. A lesser tong-man would've flicked too
hard; the sausages would've gone full circle, back to where they started.

Nice, I said. The others went yeah.

Kevin was passing us, he heard the siren-song- sizzle of the snags, the
barbecue was calling, beckoning, Kevinnnnn ...come. He stuck his head in and
said any room? We said yeah and began the barbecue shuffle; Griff shuffled
to the left, Joel shuffled to the left, I shuffled to the left, Kevin
slipped in beside me, we sipped our beer. Now there were four of us staring
at sausages, and Griff gave me the nod, my cue. I was second-in-command, and
I had to take the raw sausages out of the plastic bag and lay them on the
barbecue; not too close together, not too far apart, curl them into each
other's bodies like lovers -fat ones, thin ones, herbed and continental.

The chipolatas were tiny, they could easily slip down between the grill,
falling into the molten hot- bead-netherworld below. Carefully I laid them
sideways ACROSS the grill, clever thinking. Griff snapped his tongs with
approval, there was no greater barbecue honour.

P.J. came along, he said looking good, looking good -the irresistible lure
of the barbecue had pulled him in too. We said yeah and did the shuffle,
left, left, left, left, he slipped in beside Kevin, we sipped our beer.

Five men, lots of sausages. Joel was the Fork-pronger; he had the fork that
pronged the tough hides of the Bavarian bratwursts and he showed lots of
promise. Stabbing away eagerly, leaving perfect little vampire holes up and
down the casing. P.J. was shaking his head, he said I reckon they cook
better if you don't poke them. There was a long silence, you could have
heard a chipolata drop; this new- comer was a rabble-rouser, bringing in his
crazy ideas from outside. He didn't understand the hierarchy; first the
Tong-master, then the sausage-layer, then the Fork-pronger - and everyone
below was just a watcher. Maybe eventually they'll move up the ladder, but
for now - don't rock the Weber.

Dianne popped her head in; hmmm, smells good, she said. She was trying to
jostle into the circle; we closed ranks, pulling our heads down and our
shoulders in, mumbling yeah yeah yeah, but making no room for her. She was
keen, going round to the far side of the barbecue, heading for the only
available space. . . . the gap in the circle where all the smoke and ashes
blew. Nobody could survive the gap; Dianne was going to try. She stood there
stubbornly, smoke  blinding her eyes, ashes filling her nostrils, sausage
fat spattering all over her arms and face. Until she couldn't take it
anymore, she gave up, backed off. Kevin waited till she was gone and sipped
his beer. We sipped our beer; yeah.

Griff handed me his tongs. I looked at him and he nodded. I knew what was
happening, I'd waited a long time for this moment -the abdication. The tongs
weighed heavy in my hands, firm in my grip- was I ready for the
responsibility? Yes, I was. I held them up high and they glinted in the sun.
Don't forget to turn the thin ones Griff said as he walked away from the
barbecue, disappearing toward the house. Yeah I called back, I will, I will.

I snapped them twice, SNAP SNAP, before moving in, prodding, teasing, and
with an elegant flick of my wrist, rolling them back onto their little
bellies. I was a natural, I was the TONG- MASTER.

Until Griff got back from the toilet.

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