Troubleshoot the Hubby

This last weekend, we had a glorious few days. The summer which is peeking from around the corner, showed some of her stuff and served up warm days which we spent gardening, cleaning patio furniture and letting the girls get as dirty as they could in the shortest possible time. After six months inside, it was wonderful to ignore the housework, the laundry and the organising and just spend time outside. Amidst all the replacement appliances we had to purchase, I squeezed in a new gas grill for the Hubby. Being South African, we love BBQ’s – called a braai. In SA though, the debate is not whether you have gas or charcoal – oh no, the debate centers on whether you are using Rooikrans wood (Red wood), doringhout (thorn wood) or wingerdstompies (vine). It is utter sacrilege in South Africa even to contemplate using anything but wood. So my husband is a traitor for trading in the Weber for a gas fired grill but the advantages are wonderful. Quick fire up hence quick dinner (very IMPORTANT when there are hungry children), no excessive smoke and equally important when the wind blows, no braai grit on the food.

So we organised a get together with good friends. They would bring their two kids over and we could spent Saturday sitting outside and enjoying the weather, a good braai, some voddie cocktails (see These Good Things Page). Perfect. But nothing ever goes as smoothly as you had hoped. Harriet and Alexander had a major plumbing disaster in their house and ended up losing the shower and were restricted to minimal use of the bath. On Saturday they dropped the kids off here first so that they could go to Home Depot and Lowes and scout out new bathroom suites seeing as they need to replace everything!

Kids played in the backyard and things were pretty ‘rustig’ (peaceful). Hubby was working hard in the garden (actually he put in so much elbow grease, I am scared he is going to take sick leave for a week!), I was in and out between trying to tidy the house in desperate need of a clean up and enjoying the sunshine. Harriet and Alexander returned from the expedition looking slightly parched and exhausted. Luckily I had a jug of voddie cocktails on hand to offer my weary guests. Hubby was getting all his new tools and his new grill ready for the big inaugural braai. Hubby and Alex sauntered off to the patio and proceeded to figure out how to ignite the grill. Harriet and I were sitting on the lawn chairs listening to the incessant clicking of the ignition but absent was the roar of testosterone fueled grunting that would illustrate success and ‘We have fire Wilson! Fire…’

After fifteen minutes of clicking, I pulled myself out of my chair, away from my glass to go and see what the problem was. “Who assembled this thing?” Hubby hissed as he turned the ignition switch for the fifteenth time, hoping it would be different. “The store did, before they delivered it.” I answered him, knowing he knew the answer to his own question. “Well, someone did something wrong because it is sparking but it won’t stay on.” I asked him then if he smelt gas when he opened the bottle to which I just got a grunted reply – could have been either a yes or a no.

“Did you read the trouble shooting section?” was the next question. This question was treated with disdain that all men treat the mere suggestion of trouble shooting. If you read that section, you are not a man, just like a map, it is only there for women who do not know what they are doing. Hubby smiled a wry smile and said that there was no trouble shooting section in the manual. “Oh, so this is not it on page 23 under the heading Troubleshooting?” I asked. Just to drive my point home, I read the entire list under trouble shooting. One of the suggestions was: Check that your gas bottle is full. The retort here from behind the huge facade of the grill was yet another grunt.

By now the children were standing sullen faced looking at the inactive grill wishing that Burger King did a delivery. “Did you smell gas?” I asked again, my tone insistent of an answer this time. “Not really.” was the muffled answer I received. Hubby picked up the gas bottle and commented how light it seemed. THAT IS BECAUSE IT IS EMPTY TIM ALLEN! I went inside and turned the oven on to 425F so that I could at least cook the sausages for the kids.

Alexander and Hubby jumped into the car and raced off to have the bottle filled at the closest place. About twenty minutes later they returned somewhat resembling medieval soldiers back from battle with raucous laughter and the deepened voices to indicate that these men are victorious and that the little women should fret no more, as dinner will be cooked on the flame within minutes. Harriet and I just sighed. If we were grilling, we would have of course tested the grill earlier and avoided this crisis. When Harriet asked why I had not checked the grill, I told her that I was instructed in no uncertain terms that I was not to touch this grill… It was his and I had no business whatsoever going near it – it was a piece of equipment I would clearly not understand.

The boys fired up the grill eventually, after another 15 minutes of trying to get it to light. We ate three hours later than scheduled but thanks to the trusty over inside the kitchen, the kids were well fed and soon were lying under blankets in the living room watching TV. Harriet, Alexander, Hubby and I finished all the cocktails and the food was great. Of course, though, there will never be a mention about this again, ever. What happens on the patio, stays on the patio. The only observation Hubby made was that he needs to figure out the ‘timing’ of the cooking procedure – after years of barbecuing on wood, it was a major adjustment for him. No kidding mate. I can think of a number of different adjustments:

1. The trouble shooting section should be printed in the front section of the manual – before the index. Men don’t read the instructions but clearly will need to refer to the trouble shooting section.

2. The trouble shooting section should be renamed: ‘Check this before telling your wife something is wrong with your grill’ – this would make it clear what bases need to be covered, saving face for the husbands but saving valuable time for the wife leaving her free to pre-heat the oven or get the take out menu ready.

3. Men should ALWAYS test new appliances they use BEFORE guests arrive. This way they retain their dignity and the wives don’t have to cook an unexpected meal.

Since this first braai, Hubby tried again and succeeded in serving up delicious lamb chops, so it was a lesson well learnt. Now if only he can stop refering to me as Wilson every time the grill ignites, we would have made some real progress here.


~ by ski holidays on April 24, 2008.

4 Responses to “Troubleshoot the Hubby”

  1. Thanks Wilson…

    Excellent, excellent story. I am glad this will never happen to me…

  2. Got to love those voddy cocktails. amd I speak with experience.

    Good thing your Hubby has you around! Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.


  3. Harriet and Alexander – just love it, (LOL) although it was probably before your time and not shown in South Africa – but Ozzie and Harriet or Lucy and Dezi, are more suited to those two!

  4. AA: no never to you…

    Fairbanks: Yes, good thing. Although Harriet has a hard time remembering!

    Millburytimes: I will look those up, although I think that Harriet and Alexander are just unique (esp in my house)!! 🙂

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