Memorial Day was created to honor both Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the U.S. Civil War. It was later extended to include World War I and now, in memory of the men and women who have died during all U.S. military conflicts.
Although there are parades throughout the country, many towns ended them decades ago and nowadays the three-day weekend is universally known as the unofficial beginning of summer marked more by retail sales, picnics, backyard barbecues than flags flown at half staff from front porches as when I was a kid.
But I'm not here to complain about that. Instead, I was intrigued on Saturday by a story in The New York Times about the Weber Grill. According to the company, the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend is the busiest of the year for its telephone hotline when
”...thousands of befuddled grillers (overwhelmingly male) are being rescued by a team of about 40 grilling experts (almost all of them women).”
Backyard grilling is traditionally the domain of the alpha male of the household and that causes some amusement at the hotline center. According to the Times story, it goes something like this:
”It is supposed to be a foolproof formula. But the guy at the grill is frantic. He has a yard full of hungry guests, and he is fumbling to get the gas flaming properly. It is a Memorial Day weekend nightmare that calls into question the very essence of his suburban manhood. Furtively, he dials the Weber Grill hot line for help, and Janet Olsen is on the line.
“'Quick, I need to talk to a man,' he says curtly.
“For Ms. Olsen, 67, it was yet another caller insisting that no woman could possibly grasp a grilling issue.
“With 14 years on the job, she calmly but firmly explains that she will be able to handle the problem. If the man is especially upset, she suggests, 'You might want to grab a beer — and just listen for a while.'”
It sounds to me like a variation on the asking-for-driving-directions dispute that divides the men from the women. And there's more:
”Most of the time, Ms. Olsen said, the answer is an easy one. People sometimes simply forget to turn up [the] heat. 'You’ll tell the man the answer, and in the background you can hear his wife say, “See, I told you so.”'
“If things go wrong, she encourages people to have some perspective. 'It’s not life-saving medicine,' Ms. Olsen tells them, 'it’s just grilling.'”
You can read the entire story here.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Bob Brady: Twin Toddler Take No Prisoners