One Saturday morning not long ago, I popped down to Canadian Tire to buy a barbecue. There they all were, out on the floor, in their gleaming stainless steel hoods. I found one that looked pretty good. The cooking surface was huge – like the deck of an aircraft carrier. And the price was right. I thought, I’ll take it! Oh yeah, we’ll be firing up the grill tonight.
The clerk disappeared and returned wheeling a great big box. Ah, right. You don’t get the floor model. You’ve gotta assemble it.
“Um,” I asked her, “How long will it take to put together?”
“Well,” she said, “I’d allow yourself two hours. Two uninterrupted hours.”
Two uninterrupted hours. “So you mean, it’ll be done by September.”
She gave me a sort of pinched smile. I looked at the other customers in line. They were not smiling. They were nodding. Some of them had been down this road themselves, you could tell. The look in their eyes was sympathy. Or maybe pity.
Assembling a barbecue is a perfect job for a Big Day because you pretty much have to cradle-to-grave it. Once you’ve unpacked the box, and laid out all the parts — including a zillion fussy little screws — and finally grokked the Rosetta-Stone complexity of the assembly diagram, you must follow through and get ‘er done before nightfall. This became my solemn vow.
Accounting for lemonade breaks, and interruptions of the sort that shatter the fragile concentration of middle-aged men, it the took me the better part of ten hours. The barbie was not ready by dinnertime as I’d hoped and possibly promised the kids. We got take-out.
Now I have a treat for you. Instead of supplying the details of this misadventure, I pass the talking stick to Ian Brown, the great feature writer for The Globe and Mail. Turns out Ian just logged his own Big Barbecue Day. Pass the Sweet Baby Ray’s. And enjoy.