Welcome to our Fourth of July BBQ!
Festivities will begin once the spiders migrate out of the grill and we identify the vegetarians
The grill is being fired up. It has a nickname. Fifty percent of being a dad is handing out nicknames. Dad calls his Karen. No one in our family is named Karen. Mom’s never been totally comfortable with this.
Karen hasn’t been cleaned since the last time America had a birthday. The grates are crusted with a hard, black substance that looks like something the Beatles smoked in India. It’s probably the burger that was left on the grill because someone in the family became a vegetarian last summer (we forget who, it could’ve been any one of us, really). That stringy stuff on that grate might be corn silk, or one of Uncle Steve’s hair plugs he got on Groupon. It’s a little burnt but still remarkably hair-like. Way to go, Groupon.
Dad’s grilled ribs are legendary in the neighborhood. People ask me what his secret is. I think it’s spiders. At least 20 percent of food grilled on the July 4th is spiders. Americans use grills for three months, and the rest of the year they’re basically adorable Airbnbs for black widows. Not sure how spider evolution works, but hopefully they’re experiencing a pretty strong impulse to migrate on July 3rd.
Dad stepped up his funny apron game this year. Store-bought will no longer do. A tweet he posted got two likes, so he took a photo and had it printed on an apron. It’s a photo of a link to a conservative talk show host’s thoughts on border policies. He keeps asking everyone to “click on the link” because he’s been going to the gym and wants you to feel his ab.
Who’s cooking for the vegetarians? Or are we just going to leave them over there with the Costco veggie platter again? There are many cutting-edge foods for vegetarians these days, but let’s be honest, we haven’t paid attention because we have burgers and souls. Dad sticks an unseasoned block of tofu on the grill and stares at it in the same blank way he stares at your tattoo.
The big question on Fourth of July is always the same: How long has that potato salad been out? Do you see any bubbles in it yet? If potato salad could learn to speak its first word would be “botulism.”
It’s hard not to talk politics on July 4th, but we manage. Most of us are proud to live in this country and have the freedoms and the democracy and the Beyoncé. Deviled eggs are the only real political lightning rod. Those of us with Instagram followers will call them Trumped Eggs. Then dad will say, “Anyone want a Hillaried egg?” The flies are obviously called Putins on account of their meddling.
Beer is still big in our family. Someone brought hard kombucha last year. They won’t be coming back. After “The Ordeal,” we’ll continue the tradition of filling up mom’s bottle of Pinot Grigio with Capri Sun. She hasn’t noticed in three years, except to say “they’re making mommy’s little helper better these days.”
Cousin Gina is an influencer now. Everyone’s talking about how she might put our family barbecue on the map. Dad says she should take a shot of his tweet apron and that should do it.
Gotta go. Someone brought avocado toast and I need to show them how to get back in their car and go do their version of an America party elsewhere.