Publisher’s note: In a few weeks, Macho Chef will move off the front page of the print edition and will appear in the editorial section of Fiddlehead Focus.
Occasionally the universe rattles its gears and spits out a bonafide sign, an omen of what's to come, a divine tweet from the iPod of God that tells you in no uncertain terms that you had better listen.
For me, that message came two weekends ago.
I was outside grilling some steaks, pork chops, chicken, and any other slab of protein I could find in the refrigerator. I was listening to music cranked up too loud, sipping the brewed beverage of choice out of a frosty bottle, and generally ignoring the black flies. I was in the grill zone, a Zen-like balance of slapping down t-bones, flipping burgers, and tapping my foot to an old Allman Brother's tune.
Suddenly my all-American meditation was interrupted when a small furry black and grey streak flashed by in complete silence, zipping through the legs of my small charcoal grill. It happened without a sound, and if I hadn't been looking in that direction I may never have noticed.
A bare fraction of a second later, a much larger shape, all white this time, plowed through the legs of the grill at almost the same speed but without nearly the grace of the first object, causing the grill to leap into the air and then come crashing down.
I stood there, a numb stupid human holding a now useless pair of tongs, watching my toppled root beer empty itself gloop-gloop-gloop onto the grass. The spilled charcoal sizzled and snapped as the plastic bowl that once held my homemade barbecue sauce melted over the ashy briquettes. As far as the meat was concerned, let me put it this way, I'd mowed the lawn that day, and now it appeared that the majority of the grass clippings covered the feast I had been planning.
Obviously the first streak was my cat, and the second object was my big galumphing dog out for a mid-afternoon chase. It was also obvious that it was time to execute the family canine.
Mrs. Chef opened the screen door to bring out the hamburger buns. She must have seen a look on my face for she tentatively began with, "Hon, now don't..."
And with an inarticulate snarl I took off after my pet.
Armed only with a simple grilling implement, I had visions of using those tongs on various protrusions and orifices of that dog that would have made the Marquis de Sade shudder. I raced around the side of the house, ran to the front, glimpsed the dog at the far corner, and I screamed again. The dog looked over her shoulder, startled terror on her face as she took off, probably unaware of what she'd done wrong, but fully certain of the imminent snuffing of her life if I were to catch her.
I doubled my speed and sprinted after her.
I went around the fourth corner and was back where I started from. Mrs. Chef was pouring the iced tea over the remains of the charcoal as I leaped through the steam rising up over the flotsam and jetsam of our family meal.
The dog was still ahead of me, but I was determined.
I circled the house again, and this is when the universe sent me a message. As I came around the house that second time, my heart was pounding, my blood was roaring, and I was breathing and gasping like I had never gasped in my life. The world narrowed to a point, and I collapsed on the lawn chair as the dog raced away, never realizing that this old man would never have caught her.
The message was simple. Exercise, get a grill that will stay upright, and for gosh sakes, train your pets.
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