I got a phone call at 7:30 last night. It was over and done with in less than two minutes.
“Grilling? Absolutely, yes. What can I bring?”
“I don’t know, man. We’ve got everything already. Bring a case, I guess.”
“Okay, I’ll be there in fifteen or twenty.”
“Grilling Out.” Much like the phrases “Up North” and “Gone Fishin,” the term brings to mind stereotypes of the Midwest- Of simple folk and cheery dispositions. Saying hello to strangers. Eating foods filled with high cholesterol. Hearing music just a little bit later than people on the east or west coast. It’s a no frills, easygoing lifestyle, and a charcoal or gas powered grill is very much a part of that.
A front porch. A back porch. A slab of concrete on the side of your house. It doesn’t matter where it is, as long as you have some semblance of a porch. It just needs to be able to support a grill and a table where people can sit down to play cards while you flip burgers and pound Corona Lights. Welcome to Grilling Szn. A grilling session on, oh I don’t know, Monday night is a staple in the life of anyone with a 9-5 cube job. All you need is a paycheck that allows you to spontaneously spend a few extra bucks on alcohol, bratwurst, hamburger, chicken, and snacks of varying quality.
You can’t put a price on a porch hang out. The music needs to be of the chill variety. A little smooth jazz, Phil Collins, or Jimmy Buffett will do the trick.
In the Midwest, grilling season is an occasion. This is not something one can do year around. This area of the United States does get a handful of days in March and April when mother nature decides to play just the tip, but for the most part, people of the Midwestern variety will all tell you the same thing: Summer is from mid-May to late-August. You only have so much time to go swimming, wear shorts, and drink on patios. After that, it’s fall, and with it comes football and a reprieve from mosquitoes. This finite amount of time for grilling is a precious commodity in a place like Chicago, so last night I took advantage. I had some friends over, we played euchre, ate entirely too much food, and watched game one of the western conference finals between the Warriors and Thunder. I love when the NBA and NHL playoffs start. It signals the arrival of summer for me. It’s not so much the sports I care about. It’s just an excuse to have a beer and watch some frenetically paced sporting events. For reasons I can’t explain, going to work during the summer months just isn’t as stressful.
I’m currently on a two-week hiatus from work so that last sentence doesn’t really apply to me at the moment. This, of course, means that my days are filled with dread regarding moves to a city that doesn’t have Uber but also with the fact that it may be too hot to grill outdoors in my new residence. So last night in the city was one of my last opportunities to enjoy Midwestern niceties but also the company of people I probably won’t be seeing for a few months. When I have been gainfully employed during the summer months, any task that comes across my desk just isn’t as annoying.
If the temperature is hovering around sixty degrees and it’s a weekday, give some of your friends a call and see if they’re up for a grilling session. Have five or six beers. Eat two cheeseburgers and a bratwurst with all the fixings. Play a few games of euchre. It’s summertime and the days are going to morph together anyways. What do you care if you have a slight hangover come tomorrow? .