Memorial Day first officially started on 1882 as a way for citizens to honor and remember those who gave their lives in brave service to our country. Now it’s a three day weekend that usually involves a road trip from hell, crass furniture sales with pitches like, “They died so you’d have freedom to take advantage of these amazing deals! Check out this futon with an American flag sewn in!” and barbecues. Oh, yes, barbecues.
There’s few things more American than charring raw meat over an open flame. It appeals to our can-do spirit and love of fire. And since the flame is going so well, why not show off and invite people over so that they may partake in your greatness? And since you’re coming anyway, why not bring a side dish or a sheet cake? Most people don’t but it’s still the right thing to do.
Most of the people you meet at a Memorial Day barbecue are decent God fearing people who you’re proud to call a fellow American. But there are several you should avoid at all costs. People who will stop at nothing to lessen your barbecue experience. I’m not prone to exaggeration but looking at these people is like looking into the face of pure evil. Here are the people you most want to avoid at any Memorial Day Barbecue:
8. Not So Silently Judgmental Vegan
Why would a vegan be at a barbecue? Usually because they’re the sister of an invited guest and they’ve come from out of town and we really wish they stayed there. Meat is murder. Soy tastes just as good as meat. They pump it full of hormones. Blah, blah, blah. Give it a rest and go back to following the Dave Matthews Band.
Sometimes you’ll get a real extremist who will point to a pet walking around and say something like, “Why don’t you eat that? It’s no different then eating beef!” For starters, my dog is a helluva lot cuter then a slab of beef and she’s probably pretty gamey. Ironically, these people generally are so pale they look like they really could use some protein in the form of dead cow.
7. “You’re Just Lucky I’m Here At All” Couple
This couple is usually better dressed then the other guests and will arrive at least an hour later then most guests. The reason for this is that they’re just so gosh darn popular that they’ve been invited to five barbecues. Better barbecues with a higher class of people. They won’t say this directly, of course. That would be too posh.
Hey, don’t feel bad that you can only stay an hour, we really didn’t want you to come in the first place.
6. Guy You Haven’t Seen Since College A.K.A. the Mortality Mirror
Hey, there’s Kenny. Good guy. You went to college together. You kind of liked him, although not enough to keep in touch which is why you haven’t seen him in twenty years. “Kenny, you look amazing.” You’re lying. Kenny looks terrible. He’s balding, could stand to lose about twenty pounds and is still delusional enough to think he’s going to “make it” when any rational person know there’s zero chance of that happening.
Here’s the scary part, he’s thinking the exact same thing about you, give or take ten pounds and you don’t need that reality check at a freakin’ Memorial Day Barbecue! Stay home, Kenny!
5. Newly Wed Couple In Their 40’s
They act like they’re the first people in history to ever get married. Why did it take them so long to tie the knot? They’ll tell you that it’s because they’re so picky and refused to settle until they found “the one.” The reality is that after a long slog, they finally found someone that isn’t hideous looking who will put up with their crap.
Thanks to smartphones they can apologize for not inviting you to their wedding and then show you their wedding and honeymoon. If you’re really lucky they’ll tell you about their food allergies before making out while plates of food are precariously balanced on their laps.
Be really careful because these people will tell you all about their new place which is really code for “will you help us move?” Hell no. The statute of limitations for asking friends to help you move is thirty four and one should never question it.
4. The Hoverer
You can always find this person either by the sliding glass door that leads to the refrigerator, right next to the host or by the chips. Guess what, it’s not our fault you forgot to eat lunch and that it’s four now and we’re a good hour and a half away from the main course. We also see right through your “is there anything I can do to help” empty gesture to see that what you really mean is, “when will the burgers be starting?”
A good barbecue is like a great music festival. It should all build to something great at the end. If the headliner takes the place of the opener or “special guest” the whole thing is thrown out of whack. Prepare to eat around six and if you can’t wait that long don’t come or sneak off to McDonald’s. You will not be missed.
3. The Single Dad Who Can’t Handle His Kids
I’m not talking about a divorced dad, this is the guy whose wife, for whatever reason, is out of town. He’s got at least two kids with him and if there was any discipline in the beginning, by the third beer it’s nothing but a hazy memory. The kids know this and go to town. They’re into everything and somehow, one of them has gone up to the roof. Don’t panic, he certainly isn’t, because we’re in California and most houses are one story. If you have any pets, it’s best to hide them unless you have the only cat that likes to be ridden.
By beer four, single dad, is viewing this time without the wife where he can drink, as his vacation. He doesn’t care that his kids are using him as a jungle gym because, as far as he’s concerned, he’s drinking on a get out of jail free card. If he asks you look after his kids for a “sec” while he goes to the store to buy more potato salad, do not fall for it, because as sure as The Who will put out another greatest hits album, you will never see him again.
2. The Grill Master
The mortal enemy of the “Not So Silently Judgmental Vegan.” This guy’s entire existence has been devoted to the study of meat and how you’re doing it wrong. Yes, I’m aware that there’s no discernible difference between marinating meat for fifteen minutes and marinating it overnight. I don’t need to be told that you should allow an hour and a half grill time per pound of meat, Mr. Zen Barbecuer and that I must become “one with the meat.” I’m aware that you shouldn’t cut into the meat to check if it’s done because it will dry it out.
I know all these things. A “grill master” should behave like he’s the vice-president. He stands in the corner silently and will stay that way unless you, the primary barbecuer is killed or unable to fulfill your grilling duties.
I’m not that interesting. I tend to prattle on about my dog and articles I’ve written and, as you’ve probably figured out by now, I’m pretty judgmental. Plus, now when no one talks to me, I can blame it on this article instead of my rather grating personality. Game, set and barbecue.