Hey son, it looks like you and your friends are having a blast playing your little board game out on the deck. How about I fire up the grill real quick? No? You sure? I know, I know you’re always saying that whenever I grill I “always make a big show of it” and “become so invested in grilling that even the smallest inconvenience sends me into a righteous, ground-chuck-fueled tirade,” but I really think your fears will be moot when your gullets are chock full of meat.

I’ve got everything lined up so this grilling experience won’t be sullied by past mistakes. Remember the meat shortage of ‘07, the infamous Frankless Fourth of July? I still wake up in a cold sweat thinking about it. If I hadn’t lost so many dogs to hubris, juggling them in a series of elaborate grill tricks, we might have had enough and I might not have gotten so downright nasty. I still haven’t forgiven myself for the way I snapped at your girlfriend. Well, ex-girlfriend now I guess.

Again, really sorry about that.

But this time? This time I have the meats in spades. I called ahead to Wegman’s and totally cleaned them out. We’re talking prime rib, short rib, medium-sized rib, and franks. 200 franks. Chops, cutlets, drums, thighs, breasts, shoulders, I got it all. I even got those Impossible burgers you kids are always screaming and crying about. Besides, nothing says “board game night” like a greasy, sloppy, leaking burger that requires two hands to manage.

I just don’t understand how the four of you can sit here playing Catan on a beautiful summer day and not want me to fire up the grill.

Yes, I see all the empty pizza boxes, but how can you not still be hungry for a tender slab of sizzling meat cooked on my special smoker section? This is a four-burner Weber classic with an expandable top grate! It’s got–

Hang on. It’s got a water ring on it. Did someone put their drink here? It’s not a goddamn side table! Ever heard of rust, you maggots? You wouldn’t leave a beer on a church pew, would you?

Sorry, sorry. Got a little carried away there. Listen, the four of you look so cozy in those lawn chairs, are you sure you don’t want a burger in that lap? A nice beefy burger on a wispy paper plate? Slab of American cheese? Pineapple skewers teetering precariously on the side? You’ll just need to move your intricate game set up about nine feet to the left—every now and then this grill gives off a bit of a “solar flare.” Henry here knows what I’m talking about, right buddy? But don’t worry, I’ve got a cooler full of ice packs on standby.

And if it isn’t Terry O’Connor. Nice to see you again! So sorry about that little skewer incident last time. Chicks dig scars, though! And Ben, I didn’t mean to scream that your negligence at the grill is the reason you didn’t get into Duke. In retrospect, that was a low blow. I’m glad you boys finally came back and let bygones be bygones. You want some corn on the cob? A bratwurst? I imported them from Germany for this very occasion.

Please let me grill.

You’re absolutely right that it’s 103 degrees out without the grill on, but I’m already wearing my grill master apron. It’d be a shame to wear the apron and not at least BB-cue up a couple of chicken breasts. I’ve got a big plastic tub of my special barbeque sauce right here, ready to go.

Tell ya what, boys, I’ll even let you take turns using the little paintbrush to tickle the breasts. Son, come stand here. Ben, you there. Henry, you there. Terry, maybe you should just go inside. I’d hate for those skewer scars to get sunburnt.

Ah, I did it again, didn’t I? I get close to the grill and I just lose myself. I’m sorry, son, maybe you were right that I become a tyrannical moth to Gertrude’s flame whenever someone sets foot on the deck. I guess I’m just sentimental about you heading off to college in the fall, my opportunities to grill for my baby boy are dwindling. Seems like just yesterday I was grilling after your baptism! Just have fun and enjoy your game.

In the meantime, I’m going to see if your mom would be interested in 200 juicy pounds of scorched meat.