What a great 4th of July. Let’s recap: Slid out of the office early Thursday, ’cause there’s really no reason not to steal a few extra hours in advance of a three-day weekend. I wasn’t going to be doing anything productive anyway.
Such a nice day. Roll down the windows, open the sunroof. No afternoon games today, so music. That’s fine. It used to be impossible to peel me off of baseball on the radio, but that was mostly because of Ron Santo. The replacements since Santo’s passing…I hate them for the same reason I hate Sammy Hagar. It’s not their fault they aren’t the right guys, but they aren’t.
Anyhow. Ribs and a brisket tomorrow. Since I went to a wedding in Missouri fifteen years ago, I don’t grill much. I smoke. I was reading a lot of Calvin Trillin at the time, so the day after the wedding we went to Kansas City to eat barbecue. We might as well have had a vision of the Virgin and pledged ourselves to the church.
I can’t decide between margaritas and piña coladas for this weekend, but I don’t have to, because I’m a grownup. Pineapples, coconut cream, limes, check. I get home and start the smoker. It’s a big ugly homemade oil drum kinda thing that I built with a friend. It looks like I’m cooking food in a municipal garbage can. I love it, ‘specially that meatsmoke smell.
It’s nearly too hot to sleep, but a quick cold shower and a box fan pointed at the bed help.
I roll out of bed at six, check the smoker, and go back to bed. At ten I pull on my favorite summer camouflage cutoffs and go outside with coffee to smell the smoke and appreciate the sun on my face. I’ll be burnt by the end of this weekend, but warm morning sun is almost as good as coffee. It’s the best kind of sun, where it’s just as light when you close your eyes but is only warm, not searing, and you begin to understand what it was that drove plants to evolve the ability to turn to face it all day long.
On the way back in I snag the drink coolers, standard Gatorade cylinders like you see bungeed to construction trucks or on NFL sidelines. Turns out they also dispense other cold liquids. Hope you like your boat drinks on the rocks.
Once the coolers are mixed I prep the ribs. People start arriving about noon, in halters (women), tank tops (men), cutoffs (both) and swimsuits (kids) with chairs, beer, chips, desserts, waterguns, and dogs. I love when there are dogs. We all lounge in the sun and drink and BS and catch up and sweat and burn and run through the sprinkler and eat ribs and brisket and this f—– unbelievable lemon curd tart thing that tastes sharp and yellow as sunshine until it is time to leave for the fireworks. We walk to Oak Park (no one can drive for a while yet) with kids, dogs, and wheeled coolers trailing behind us. We’re sweating like horses, but that’s good because it rinses off some of the barbecue residue on all the faces. The fireworks display is fine. Sound and fury. Mosquitos come, but we have repellent, and the piney chemical smell fires off one more sense memory in a day rich with them. We carry some of the sleepy kids back to homebase after. We clean up and maybe have one more drink. What a perfect summer day.
GOD, I’m tired of writing about snow.