The May long weekend is here, and you sun-worshipping Manitobans know exactly what that means. It means -- and it breaks my heart to say this -- there are only about four months left before the Stanley Cup playoffs are finished.
Ha ha ha! I am just kidding around in a light-hearted manner, of course. There is no (very bad word) way the playoffs will wrap up that soon.
What the arrival of this holiday weekend really means in this part of the country is the unofficial start of summer and -- prepare to begin drooling profusely -- the official launch of Backyard Barbecue Season.
Is that exciting news, or what? Answer: No, it isn't, because I can tell by the haphazard way you are reading today's column you are totally unprepared to grill in a manner I deem acceptable.
Do you know what you need? What you need is a well-researched, informative article telling you how to safely fire up both your barbecue and your taste buds.
Unfortunately, I don't have one of those lying around, so you are going to have to make do with Doug's Annual Step-by-Step Guide to the Manly Art of Grilling Meat:
- Step 1 -- Wake up, remove your pillow from your mouth, then bellow at your wife: "HONEY, SPRING IS HERE AND I CRAVE THE TASTE OF EXPERTLY GRILLED MEATS! CALL THE KIDS AND THE NEIGHBOURS BECAUSE I AM GOING TO BARBECUE!"
- Step 2 -- Realize your wife has already left for work, so roll over and go back to sleep.
- Step 3 -- Put on your ratty bathrobe and your flip-flops, then carefully stagger out into the backyard to conduct a full spring inspection of the condition of your beloved propane barbecue.
- Step 4 -- Feel a deep sense of shame because your once-gleaming barbecue -- the most manly thing you own, the one piece of technology no one in your family is allowed to touch without first obtaining your written permission -- is coated in a dense layer of greasy black scunge, rust, rodent nests and tube-shaped objects that may once have been hotdogs but have since been transformed into rock-hard cylinders with the same lethal density as lawn darts.
- Step 5 -- Undaunted, roll up your sleeves, screw your facial features up into a determined, workman-like expression and shriek: "KIDS -- GET OUT HERE AND CLEAN THE BARBECUE!"
- Step 6 -- After your kids ignore you, march into the den, physically remove the video-game controllers from their tightly clenched fists and give them a long, deeply moving speech about how, when you were their age, your parents expected you to clean every inch of the barbecue with a toothbrush but only after walking through 20 feet of snow carrying a backpack filled with charcoal briquettes. Then hand them $20 and threaten to discontinue your home's Wi-Fi service, because science has shown that is the only way to contact the brains of today's modern children.
- Step 7 -- When your wife returns from work, ask whether she remembered to stop at the store on the way home and pick up a selection of meats for you to grill along with a variety of delicious carbohydrate-intensive side dishes.
- Step 8 -- While your wife drives to the store, prepare to grill by slowly donning a dorky barbecue apron sporting a federally approved slogan such as Kiss The Cook, Mr. Good Lookin' is Cookin, or My Meat is Hand Rubbed. You will feel more manly about this if, as you slip the apron on, you hum the theme song from an old cowboy movie wherein an aging gunfighter straps on his beloved pearl-handled six-shooter for the last time.
- Step 9 -- Fire up your grill by pressing the automatic starter button. Ha! That is a joke. That (bad word) button hasn't worked since the day you bought the barbecue. Instead, turn on the propane and thrust a burning match into the hole in the side of the barbecue. When a spout of flame rockets out of the hole and torches your eyebrows, make a mental note to use one of those really long fireplace matches the next time you grill.
- Step 10 -- As the barbecue approaches the temperature of a super nova, politely shout in the direction of your kitchen for your wife to bring you (a) a bunch of things to put on the grill, provided those things are made of meat; and (b) the first in a steady stream of icy-cold beverages made from beer, because grilling is hard work and it's vital to stay hydrated.
- Step 11 -- To ensure you have killed any "salmonella" (Literally "a popular blues group from the 1930s"), ensure everything that comes off your grill has been reduced to ash-covered lumps of carbon.
- Step 12 -- Finally, stride purposefully into the den to announce dinner is ready, then forget about everything and park yourself on the couch in front of the big-screen TV, because, in case no one has mentioned it, the Stanley Cup playoffs are on!