Canadian Rental Service

The Funny Page: Kiss the Cook

By Steve Milcik   

Features Business Intelligence

It all started when she called my name. It wasn’t a tender, whispered “Oh Steve” that would have set my mind racing, my heart fluttering and my pulse quickening with thoughts of romance and passion.

steve-milcikIt all started when she called my name. It wasn’t a tender, whispered “Oh Steve” that would have set my mind racing, my heart fluttering and my pulse quickening with thoughts of romance and passion. No, it was a banshee wail, a shriek that let me know that my summer solstice was about to crash and burn.

When she speaks, I listen. When she screams, cats have kittens, wine glasses shatter and I drop what I’m doing and run. No, I’m not talking about Her Royal Highness, Mandy Maeren, though the above applies to her as well. This air horn command came from my wife, the lovely and delicate Sophie, a woman who could crush what was left of my manhood between her two well-manicured fingers without a moment’s hesitation.

When I heard my name yodeled, I had been currently perusing the latest Canadian Rental Service magazine in my favourite location, the bathroom. This is the ideal place since most of what editor Chris Skalkos writes can often cause extreme gastric distress. I arrived in front of Sophie within 30 seconds, pants around my ankles. It isn’t easy running up two flights of stairs hobbled by a pair of jeans, but I made good enough time that she didn’t immediately teach me a new meaning for the word ‘pain’. She’s a fair and understanding woman, my Sophie, though I did notice she made an entry in her ‘Big Book of Things to Give Steve Hell About Later’. That book is bigger than War and Peace.

Sophie has been after me for about a year to replace our original four-burner barbecue. I don’t know why – it works just fine: put meat on, burn meat, take meat off, scrape off charred flesh, eat. I think body rust and years of caked-on cooking residue add a lot of character to the appliance, and flavour to the meat. Additionally, I feel that having a black baked enamel hood actually go gray in colour is the mark of a well-used, and well-loved, portable incineration device. Plus, it’s been a member of the family for almost as long as the dog and cat have been.


Well, no matter what they say to the contrary, a smart husband never gets in the way once a wife has made a decision. Everyone knows that dripping water can wear through stone, just like Sophie’s voice can… nope, better stop before I get clobbered. Again. Anyway, after listening to a lot of lectures about the merits of replacing the aged barbecue, I caved-in and started shopping for a new one. I felt dirty, as if I was doing something unkind and unjust behind an old friend’s back. But I know where my bread is buttered, so old friend or not, it had to go.

Barbecues have gone through an amazing evolution over the past few years. There’s one for every price point from about $150 for a flat-top four burner, up to literally thousands of dollars for stainless steel, 12 burner ‘professional grilling centres’ that pump out 10 gazillion BTUs. They come in all shapes and sizes, from small tabletop units to some that come with their own trailer. Since I don’t often try grilling the whole cow at once, I opted for a size that would actually fit on my balcony. I admired it in the showroom, looking at it from every angle, gleaming with newness and the promise of the perfectly charred steak. I actually began drooling slightly, which nobody really noticed since I do this a lot anyway.

I flagged down a passing teen-aged employee for more information, and smelling a fish nibbling at his hook, he launched into a detailed monologue about the model I was considering, throwing out terms and statistics that quickly made my eyes glaze over in confusion. Suddenly, something he said grabbed my attention. “Easy assembly in less than one hour!” Now THIS is something I can get behind!

Suddenly, images of me standing in front of my brand-spanking new barbecue, clouds of dense smoke circling my head while heroically holding a spatula in one hand and a fire extinguisher in the other filled my mind. I literally threw my credit card at the stunned sales boy and ran out the door, giggling like a schoolgirl on her way to the prom. In the distance, black clouds were gathering and thunder rumbled menacingly, but I paid them no heed. This was my first mistake… well, my second, if you count the fact I decided to assemble the barbecue myself.

After arriving home, I muscled the large box into the house and on to the balcony. I opened the crate slowly, savoring the smell of packing tape and cardboard. Sitting on the very top was my new bible… a ‘User Guide to BBQ Assembly’. Later, I noticed the small print underneath the title: ‘Caution: Not For Idiots’. What happened afterwards cannot be discussed at this point, simply because I am still traumatized and my lawyer has suggested we do not discuss details until after we settle the lawsuit with the neighbours. Suffice to say that most of my burns have healed, my singed hair is slowly growing back and my old and trusted barbecue is still a member of our family for now. Who wants a burger?

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