I spent my youth in a quiet little town; the same town where I currently reside, having returned here quite a number of years ago after a lengthy time away, apparently to commit a slow suicide by boredom. As it happens, my quiet little town isn’t so quiet or little anymore. Still boring as fuck though.
One of the things myself and my friends liked to do to occupy ourselves during our youth (besides look for boys or trouble), was to go to the park and have a barbecue. Let me just say that teens don’t necessarily know how to barbecue. At least, we didn’t on one particular barbecuing day.
As we got older, we got better at it of course, and by then, our little cookouts grew into big ‘ol parties complete with kegs of beer and stolen hot dogs and hamburgers. And no, I personally didn’t steal any food, it was my boyfriend at the time who worked for the school district supervising supply and delivery of cafeteria food.
He had access to everything so he would steal boxes of burger patties, hot dogs and buns. We had Saturday barbecue parties all summer long courtesy of our little school district. Do I feel badly about partaking in stolen goods? No. The people at the school district are the ones who should feel badly considering they knowingly fed burritos containing pork fillers to Jewish kids, who are probably going to hell now.
Maybe you’re wondering why a bunch of teens would want to barbecue at the park anyway, as opposed to going to the mall, movies or wherever else teens hung out back then. That’s what kids do in a town where your mode of transportation, pre-automobile, is your horse, which we could ride just about anywhere we wanted.
Mind you, this town isn’t Hicksville in the middle of nowhere; we lie just outside of Los Angeles about 30 or so miles, but it felt like the middle of nowhere. It was the type of place where it was so quiet, you could hear the soft breeze slip through the canyons and at night you could see so many stars, it would dazzle you and take your breath away. It made you realize how infinitesimal your place was in the Universe.
One day, myself, my sister, and our friend, decided to do a burger cookout so we put all our dollars together, walked to the store and bought all the food we needed, plus some plastic ware, paper plates and cups, and a couple liters of orange soda, which was not my preference, but my friend could be persuasive (meaning she wouldn’t shut the fuck up until she got her way). We also got charcoal briquettes and starter fluid.
We made our way over to the park and everything was great. Well, except that our friend dragged her little brother along; he was a bratty little whiner that wore diapers well into his boyhood… and I couldn’t stand him. When he grew up, he became a big weirdo creep with a mean streak, which didn’t surprise me in the least because any mother who would make her son wear diapers past the age of six meant there was a good chance he was gonna grow up to be a school shooter.
Shortly after we set everything up, we realized we had no ice for our beverages, and why would we when everything was brought over in paper bags? If there’s anything worse than orange soda, it’s warm orange soda on a hot summer’s day. We started to prepare the charcoal by dumping almost the entire bag in the park’s barbecue, which closely resembled prison bars that had been horizontally stuck onto a metal pole. We squirted copious amounts of fuel on the briquettes to make sure they caught… fire.
Wait, don’t you need a lighter to start a fire?
Okay so we forgot a lighter. Luckily, there’s always a child molester lurking around neighborhood parks, standing around nonchalantly, smoking cigarettes and waiting… We asked ours if he could lend us his cigarette lighter.
A note about cigarette lighters: They’re not a good idea.
A note about perverts: They’re always really nice and helpful.
After burning through most of our fingertips, we got it started. Did we clean the grate off before we started cooking? Nah, we just burned off the previous user’s crusty barbecue remains by lighting a massive bonfire. It was so big, some Indians came riding by on their horses to find out who was making strange smoke signals.
When we finally got the burger patties on the grill, they started to burn very quickly, so we decided we should remove them until the flames died down, which was the moment we realized we had no spatula. A spatula is a very important component of barbecuing, turns out.
I think we went through all of our plastic forks before we moved onto the plastic knives trying to get the burgers off. By then, they were completely blackened. We managed to get a couple off the grill and waited for them to cool down enough so we could remove the melted plastic from them. Luckily, the insides of the burgers weren’t burned… they were raw.
Suddenly, the child molester’s friend showed up, so now there were two of them hanging around. Being the worldly young girl that I was, I voiced my concerns to my compadres, at which point my sister said, “Don’t worry, if they try anything, we’ll just feed them some of our hamburgers.” which sent all of us into hysterics! Our friend laughed so hard, orange soda squirted out of her nostrils. I wish I had come up with that line.
Defeated, we threw everything in the trash and headed home, unaware that in a couple years, we’d become experts at cookouts and accomplices to stolen goods and under-aged drinking.
Then we grew up, and things changed, as they do. It’s impossible to ride horses around town anymore; too many cars and people. Teens don’t do things like have cookouts in the park, they’re online all day and barely understand what it’s like to spend time outdoors. All the child molesters are online, too. But that pretty little park… the one where we had our infamous barbecue… it’s still there and looks exactly the same as it did those long summers ago.