Thursday, October 9, 2008

Nothing Says I Love You Like Flaming Meat Hurtling Through the Air

You've all seen them, you've all heard about them, heck, even the Grand-pappy of all sitcoms, Friends, featured one. Yes folks, I'm talking about the anti-Valentines Day parties. No "Holiday" (if you could see me, you'd be noting the sarcastic quote fingers there) inspires as much anger and ire as VDay. Perhaps some folks are bitter they didn't get a little cartoon He-Man on a frilly paper heart backin third grade. Maybe there's people that are still upset that their little candies always say, "just go ahead and eat the whole bag, you're alone and no one loves you." Or, it's always possible that some people are just really deep-down-in-there angry about being alone.

I fit into category three. Not now, not anymore, that's fit in the past tense, this is way back in the day. Fresh out of college and recently dumped with Valentine's Day fast approaching, I started to feel a bitterness usually reserved for David Letterman when someone takes a job he wants. I was alone, but fortunately I wasn't alone in my loneliness. My roommate Matt had also been recently dismissed by his lady. Like gin and tonic, cinnamon and raisen, pork chops and apple sauce, his angry made good company for my bitter.

In our house, we had two other roommates, a disgustingly happy couple that shared the bedroom upstairs. They played like good coupley couple and planned a night out on the town for February 14th. Thatl eft Matt and I home alone to throw the "We're Guys and We Want to Kick Cupid in the Sack (of Arrows, keepin' it clean here) Anti-Valentine's Day Extravaganza.
The guest list was huge. Every bitter, angry, love-lorn, heart-broken, lonely guy we knew. Somehow though, poopers of the party that they were, all of our brethren had dates that night. Mattand I it was. Just the two of us, emerced in some totally hetero-sexual male bonding that was to include eating meat, drinking heavily, and complaining about the fairer sex.

The day came. The other roomies left for their romantic evening of bliss, strolling hand in hand down the driveway, he opened the car door for her. Matt almost threw up they made him so sick. I did throw up, but just a little, in my mouth. It might have been because I'd already started into the Jack Daniels and was eating cocktail wienies by the fistful. Then again, it might have been the sugary sweetness of their love. Probably both now that I think about it.

The evening began with VHS viewings of the least romantic movies we could find in our collections; First Blood, Reservoir Dogs, ErnestGoes to Jail, combined with some hard core drinking. Jack, Jose, Jim,and Johnny were all invited to this party. Before too long, we got hungry.

Knowing full well that drinking and driving are two verbs that don't belong together, and knowing full well that drinking was going to be the action word of the day, Matt and I had planned ahead. We spent the morning at the grocery store finding the biggest juiciest steaks we could find. Unfortunately, we looked at the price tags of those succulently fine carnivore's delights and plan B became our new buddy. The back up was to find the biggest, juiciest steaks we could lay our hands on for a price that would allow us to continue eating for the rest of the week. It wasn't long before we settled on two less than prime pieces of meat. They were huge steaks, by huge, I mean they must have been ten inches across, that's meatapalooza right there my friends. So what if the thickness had to be measured in millimeters. So what if the fat to meat ratio looked like Chicago Cubs-ish Vegas odds. So what if there were funny little swirly rainbow looking things on the surface of the meat. Meat cooked on fire is meat cooked on fire.

Next stop produce. No, no, no, don't get the wrong idea, we knew that vegetables are not for angry bitter testosterone loaded men who would show the world the meaning of MAN that very evening. Women eat vegetables. Women eat green things. Rabbits eat green things. Men eat rabbits that are currently eating womanly green things. Men eat potatoes. We grabbed the four biggest potatoes the potato pile had ever seen and went to check out.

Problems quickly developed when we started to cook our meat. That little tank o' gas on the grill that allows us men to char our tasty flesh on an open flame, it was empty. Again, the need for a plan B popped up. Easy. We had a fireplace.

Stoves? Ovens? Broilers? Toasters? Scoff, scoff, scoff, scoff. Men cook meat with fire. Manly brains went to work. Hot dogs and marshmallows are easy too cook on sticks, you can do the luau pig on a spit, but how about steak? Really flimsy thin droopy steak?

Ding. (that's the sound of Matt's cartoon light bulb) Probably should be more of afizzzzzlefizzlefzzzzzzzlecrackle-bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, like one ofthose blue bug zapping lights, but ding makes him seem smarter. After this he'll need a lot of help seeming smarter.

Matt decided to pull the wire rack out of the oven and wedge it into the fireplace. It actually fit. Sure, it stuck out a foot and a half into the living room and we had to use our other roommate's work boot to hold the end sticking out of the fire place up, but surely it would be safe, surely that wasn't something that would give both the fire marshall and our landlord strokes, and surely that boot was far enough from the flame that it'd be alright. It was a manly boot. Manly boots should be able to withstand a little fire.

Matt treated lighting a grill like most folks revere the torch at the Olympic games. It was a sacred moment. I left him to it, and while my Einstienie-ish roommate got started on the fire lighting, I moved to the kitchen for potato duty. Looking back, I realize that making a drinking game out of slicing spuds was a bad idea, but at the time, take a drink every time you almost chop off a digit seemed innovative and wacky. Hindsight brings such a different perspective, as does sobriety. Who'da thunk it?

Meanwhile, in the living room, the fire wasn't burning hot and fast enough for Matt's liking. His eyebrows found out that lighter fluid, like frisbees and footballs, is an outdoor toy. That fire got up and going right quick after that, but Matt was too busy stopping, dropping, and rolling to get the meat on.

Back in the kitchen, I had the brilliant culinary epiphany that vodka is made from potatoes, therefore potatoes sauteed in vodka would be especially tasty. Let's do a quick math problem. Open flame from the stove + free flowing vodka + a massive mound of carbohydrates = crispy spuds, an embarrassing lack of arm hair, and a desperate need for some sort of salve or ointment. (salve and ointment, both funny words, so I couldn't decide)

His face flame free, Matt now understood that lighter fluid burns off real quick. The fire dying, he tossed the steaks on. The consistency of the meat was not entirely unlike the skin you find on day old pudding, so it kinda started to slither through the spaces in the grill. Alert with the tongs, my pal was able to save it, but he knew those steak-like hunks of former cow had to be cooked right quick.

He reached for a pile of newspaper with his free hand and shoved it into the flame. It erupted almost as violently as my second go round with the vodka, which, I learned, is going to ignite no matter how low the flame is. I was beating the kitchen wallpaper with an oven mitt that resembled a chicken puppet. Matt was evading bits of red hot newspaper ash that were flying out of the fire every which way, most of them landing on Matt or the meat.

When one smoldering hunk of what was the sports page landed unexpectedly on the back of his neck, Matt freaked and knocked the now partially melted work boot out from under the grate. The grill, still wedged in solidly in the back, tipped violently forward, landing squarely on Matt's leg with a sizzling sound I heard all the way in the kitchen.

This was all probably about the time I finally knocked the smoke detector off the ceiling with a dust mop and came to the realization that like Chernobyl, these potatoes were in full on melt down mode.

I used the only option I could think of; I sacrificed the chicken puppet by grabbing the volcanic pan and making a run for the backdoor. I darted into the living room just in time to see Matt's reaction to molten steel searing his knee. He kicked like a ticked off mule, which catapulted the "steaks" and the oven rack across the room where they ricocheted off the wall onto our roommate's couch. This all coincided with me launching the potatoes, the pan, and the alcoholic ball of fire out the door into the snowy backyard.

My mission complete, I dove to the sofa to prevent yet another piece of our furniture from becoming infurnituro. (Like that word? I justcame up with that one.) Good ole chicken mitt snatched that rack off the cushion and deposited in the snow bank right next to the steaming sauce pan.

Hunks of newspaper ash still falling from, well, everywhere, like a swirling vortex of "The Flaming Times," Matt did a nifty rolling ninja-ey maneuver and snatched the fire extinguisher out of the front closet and put an end to any plans that flame had of taking over the universe.
The Rug Doctor, a buttload of Seaside Breeze scented Lysol, and an ingenious flip-the-cushion-and-hope-he-doesn't-notice maneuver took care of a good portion of the mess. The rest would have to wait, there were injuries to tend to.

In all of about three minutes, we'd managed to lose our dinner, our desire to party, and our security deposit. What a Valentine's Day.

On a happy note, our other male roommie came home about an hour later, sans girlfriend. Some sort of argument about oysters and clams led to a Valentine's break-up. Like a guy should, he never inquired why a good portion of the stove was in the backyard, why there were bits of meat stuck to the window, why his left boot was a melted glob in the middle of the floor, or why the Sunday paper was a charcoaly mess smeared into the carpet. He just sunk down into the slightly singed sofa, ordered us a meat-lover's pizza, poured us each another drink, and asked if we could watch a few more Ernest movies.

Luckily, for the safety of the free world, I met my wife a few years later and have never cooked on Valentine's again. Matt, on the other hand, he's still single ladies.

Come on people. Head over to and vote for the Humor Blogger of the Year. I currently have zero votes. This saddens me.


rusty said...

I'm really sick of that stupid holiday. I mean, who hasn't been divorced 15 times. God, I'm sick of changing my last name. Fuck love!

Hedon said...

I thought you and Matt were supposed to go set the ex's couches on fire. I'm all confused on how the vengence stalker thing works.

hammy said...

Well, nice to know that you and Matt finally had a nice manly valentine.

I think the holiday is pretty overrated, but then again, maybe I am in that third category, like you... Don't really know...

PlainOleMike said...

Rusty - That's a lot of alimony you must be cashing in on.

Hedon - Arson is never the answer.

Hanny - very nice post. Been a fan of your site for a while. Nice to see you over here.