When it comes to grilling, I am usually cooking with gas. Unfortunately, I couldn’t cook on our new grill for a month after we bought it. And even with the gas off, I almost blew my top.
The hot-button issue began when my wife, Sue, and I went to a home improvement store for a new grill to replace our old one, a pathetic contraption we had for several years, during which time it charred countless hamburgers, hot dogs, spareribs and (yuck!) vegetables. Eventually, rust and grease were the words.
So Sue and I got a new grill that would be delivered already assembled. A good thing, too, because I put together the first grill we ever had. It took me a week. When I finally got the stupid thing assembled, there were about a dozen parts left over.
Like a mobster who makes his wife start his car every morning, I told Sue that if she wanted me to cook on the grill, she’d have to light it.
Luckily, we didn’t have a blowup. All the grills we’ve had since then have come pre-assembled.
That included this latest one, which was delivered about two weeks after we bought it. The problem was that, unlike the others, it wouldn’t start. At first I thought it was the tank, so I bought a new one with, of course, fresh gas, which is frequently the result of my cooking.
I stood on the patio, put my finger on the ignition and said, “Gentleman, start your grill.” Not even a spark. So I called, paradoxically, the hot line and spoke with a very nice customer service representative named Savanna.
“I’m not a griller,” admitted Savanna, who had been on the job for only four months. “I’ve never tried. I didn’t know that gas tanks expired until I started working here. I’ve learned so much.”
One of the things she learned was the bubble test.
“Get a spray bottle with soap and water and spray the hose and regulator to see if there’s a gas leak,” Savanna said.
“I’ve never even taken a bubble bath,” I said while doing as instructed. No bubbles, bubbles, but there was toil and trouble, which entailed lighting a match and trying, futilely, to start the grill that way.
“Apparently, there’s not a leak, but we’ll send you a free replacement hose and regulator anyway,” said Savanna, who got the apparatus to me in about week.
When it arrived, I fetched a wrench and, while removing the original hose and regulator, gashed my middle finger. It was appropriate.
After stanching a Niagara-like torrent of blood, I got the new thingamajig attached. Then I tried to start the grill.
It was still the mechanical equivalent of a mime. I wanted to hit it with the wrench but feared it would erupt like the Hindenburg, causing Sue to exclaim, “Oh, the stupidity!”
The next day, I called the hot line again and this time spoke with an equally nice representative named Nipa, who is a vegetarian and, like Savanna, doesn’t grill.
I gave her the whole sad story. Nipa listened patiently and said, “Remove the ignition button.” I did. Then she said, “Is there a battery in there?”
“No,” I answered sheepishly.
“Get a double-A battery and put it in,” Nipa instructed. “Insert the negative first and the positive facing the cap.”
Voila! The grill started on the first try.
“You’re a genius,” I told Nipa, who was too polite to say that I’m not. “And you’re invited over for our first cookout on the new grill. I’ll even make you some veggies.”
“Thank you,” Nipa said. “What can I bring?”
“How about some batteries?” I suggested. “Without them, I wouldn’t be cooking with gas.”
Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Hearst Connecticut Media and is the author of four books. His latest is “Nini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures.” Email: [email protected]. Blog: www.jerryzezima.blogspot.com.