Tuesday, April 19, 2005

I'll Have a Weber Grill and Two Pints of Blood, Please

When Mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year, as usual, I had absolutely no idea. I’m not a high scorer on the impulse control test, so I usually don’t have a list of suitable gift items at the ready. Gloria wanted to get a grill, though, and I’d read somewhere that that Weber One-Touch Kettle Grill was an excellent choice, so I blurted that out.

Regular readers of this column should be able to establish, very quickly, that I’m not a griller. I don’t long to stand in front of a burning hot metal grate, smoke pouring onto my sweating face, as I rearrange raw meat and wienies into pleasing patterns. Not to mention that I have no desire to accidentally start a fire with a stray spark that will burn down ten thousand acres or so. So I have no genetic desire to grill, but Gloria, oddly enough, has a genetic desire to see me do so.

“When Chromosomes Collide,” reads the film title.

As a compromise, then, I grill. Occasionally.

The box arrived today. Eli 3.9 helped with the opening, and with the pieces spread out in the entryway, I looked at the assembly instructions. The assembly instructions entirely in pictures, as it were. Cartoon Confident Man was missing, that high-waisted 2-D fellow in unwrinkled trousers and crisp haircuts that symbolizes assembly as a kind of recreation, but the usual assortment of curving arrows and cryptic spatial relationships were present. One of the things that I absolutely cannot do (and never could) is translate 2-D images into 3-D space, and I’m referring particularly to assembly instructions. It is a strange, inter-dimensional kind of hell for me when I have to do this, and in most cases I will put something together backwards, if at all. Of this, though, I am fully aware.

This implies, as foreshadowing, that there is something of which I was not aware.

Indeed there was. I was wholly unaware that Weber grills were favored by assassins and secret agents as a highly efficient way to murder their enemies. I saw no indicator on the box, no sticker loudly proclaiming “PREFERRED BY SECRET AGENTS FOR ASSASSINATIONS OVER POISONED UMBRELLA TIPS 3-1!” In fact, the real ratio may be 5-1 or even higher, for as far as I could determine, there is absolutely no more efficient way to bleed to death than assembling a Weber grill.

How sharp were some of the pieces of this grill? I cut myself, and fairly deeply, in the first five minutes, just by grazing a razor-sharp metal burr. After the initial blood-letting, I made a careful inspection of every piece and actually wound up sanding down three of them, both so Eli 3.9 couldn’t cut himself and so I couldn’t bleed to death in the future. These were longer, curving surfaces, and they were wickedly sharp. The Kettle Grill of Bloody One-Touch Death, as it were.

Insidiously, when the grill was finally assembled, these surfaces were actually snug against each other or the bottom of the grill and posed no imminent threat, but there were various maintenance procedures that would have periodically exposed them. So they still would have been dangerous in the future.

I’d like to see the Weber people use this feature to their advantage, packaging their product with a gift certificate to a local blood bank, for example. The blood bank could capitalize by running ads about the need for donors to build up their personal supplies of blood before grilling season. Weber could bundle a t-shirt that shows Cartoon Confident Man, covered in blood, holding up a tray of cooked meat with the caption “I May Be Bloody, But the Meat is Perfect Every Time!”

And if you work for Weber, please e-mail me. I've got some ideas for action figures.

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