My brother pulls up in the driveway, doing the divorced-guy thing now, popping by Uncle Tom’s house for a barbecue, his pretty little girls strapped away in the CRV, looking at me through the glare of the windows with their big Chalfant eyes.
Two thoughts right off the bat: It looks like a couple of owls in there judging me from their car seats, and second, I’ll bet that setup is better than a puppy at the park, as far as the ladies are concerned.
He’s got a manly black diaper bag, like maybe modern biker dads carry, without the spikes. I unleash my own screeching children to get the rest of the stuff out of there, babies included. Two of my girls are Red Cross Certified Babysitters; they’ll probably invoice me for this at the end of the month.
Dave comes in like anyone caring for a baby and a five year-old – with a truckload of colorful stuff and a sigh of relief. The living room is alive with kids and dogs and a baby and a cat – watch your step.
Dave says something like, “Check this out.” And he produces from his pile of parenting apparatus a grocery bag with two slab of ribs in it.
“Looks good,” I tell him. “But I already got another slab in the fridge and a thing of pork chops.”
Poor planning has led to too much pork. It’s a pretty good problem to have. Time to show my vegetarian wife the meaning of the word “disgusting,” and eat it all anyway.
Some noise in the other room. We stick our heads in there and count the girls – one, two, three, four, five. Cool.
Then Dave wants to know what the “barbecue sauce situation looks like.”
I show him the bottle of barbecue sauce that I purchased at the store. According to the label, it’s super good down home barbecue sauce.
And he says nothing, just nods a bit sadly, and takes it from me, and tosses it on the counter. Doesn’t put it down, doesn’t put it back in the pantry, just tosses it to the side, kind of making a big show out of it.
Then he starts taking bowls and ingredients out of the cupboards while I frown at the back of his shirt for a little while.
Marilyn comes in and says some stuff, and I agree to it, whatever it is, and then she’s gone again, out in the garden with a hose and a beer. I wonder what that was all about? That sounded important.
Then Dave starts asking for specific things – brown sugar? I’m sure we have brown sugar let me get you a Red Cross Certified Babysitter to find it for us.
It turns out Dave is making his own barbecue sauce, and he’s being sort of a jerk about it, too. Some kind of barbecue sauce connoisseur, evidently.
“Bottled barbecue sauce,” he explains, his tone theatrically patient. “Is mostly corn syrup dyed brown with a chemical in it that makes your brain think of barbecue sauce.”
“Mmmm. Barbecue sauce.”
He makes the Marge Simpson noise, getting a little impatient over there, kind of clinking the bowls together and stirring things too hard. Here’s a guy cooks his eggs until they’re Styrofoam, but he’s borderline offended by my bottled barbecue sauce.
So I go over and taste it right out of the saucepan, and oh. I see. Sorry about that, Dave.
That’s some pretty good barbecue sauce. If he wants to tell me the recipe I’ll link to it right here, but he might want to keep it a secret, and he might also not have any idea what the recipe is. He had kind of a mad scientist look when he was throwing it together.
Man, that’s a lot of pork. The girls will eat the pork chops, no problem, but only Chrissy will eat a few ribs. That means two racks and some change Dave and I to split – it doesn’t seem possible with the corn on the cob and the asparagus and whatever else is going on in the kitchen, some kind of rice casserole.
But it’s all about whether you bend to reality or reality bends to you.
Eating pork ribs until you can’t see anymore is just a state of mind. You have to focus, Trinity – you can make it.
Yes, I’m afraid it gets rather ugly as Marilyn detects that we intend to sit there slow cooking ribs all night long, and eating them as they come off the coals in rounds, like a succulent, down-home version of Row Your Boat with pork instead of words. You heard me.
My wife goes through several stages in terms of dealing with the amount of pork we intend to eat. First is old-fashioned denial – there’s no way you two jackasses can eat that much pork, and there’s no way you’d even try so who cares? That sort of thing.
But we’re dead serious, and when she detects that, she enters the Bartering phase, makes a few attempts at negotiating a deal whereby she puts some of the ribs in the freezer. That’s quitter talk, we tell her.
Then she decides she’s amused by it. That maybe counts as a relatively short stage, followed by what can only be labeled the Revulsion stage – you guys are really going to eat all that pork and you’re gross and I’m going to bed.
It’s a matter of pride and self-respect now. You will believe two brothers can eat a horrific amount of ribs. When you do that, it turns out you feel full for several days. Like an anaconda which has swallowed an actual pig.
But I’m willing to hand it to Mister Fancy Pants Barbecue Sauce Man. He’s coming over here tomorrow and I wanted to publicly admit that his Fancy Pants Barbecue Sauce is extra tasty, and will he pretty please make more barbecue sauce when he gets here?
I have various ingredients in the cupboards, whatever the hell one makes barbecue sauce out of, and there is a store conveniently located on the way to my house, where Mister Fancy Pants Barbecue Sauce Man could pick up more ingredients with which to make Fancy Pants Barbecue Sauce.
Do I have enough pork ribs? Don’t be ridiculous, I have a lot of them, but can you ever really have enough of them?
I say no. My wife says, eww, you’re gross. The debate rages on.