Monday, March 24, 2014

Goodbye to an Old Friend

I had to say goodbye to an old friend yesterday. It was really sad. I have known this friend for 14 years. We met at my birthday party in 2000, and since then, we have spent almost every major holiday together. We typically got together 3 times per week. Whenever people came to the house, this friend was there, and was almost always the center of the party. I will miss this friend. I actually wept when I had to say goodbye, and as I write this now I am getting somewhat choked up. This friend was my Weber Performer grill. And no, I'm not joking about getting choked up.

I have always loved grilled food, but I had a yin-yang struggle with the flavor of charcoal and the convenience of gas. In July of 2000, my wife and my father-in-law went in together and got me a Weber Performer. Just a few months before, Weber Grills introduced the Performer grill-- a charcoal kettle grill with a propane ignition, essentially obliterating both my yin and my yang. I still remember sitting in Hillside, Illinois, knowing that my wife had cooked up something. I saw my father-in-law pull into our long driveway pulling a trailer with a tarp. Imagine my surprise when I saw this stainless steel and green enamel beauty. Now imagine my surprise when I found out that this was my ideal grill and my family had pulled together to get it for me.

Practicing my fire extinguishing with my new Performer, 2000
Then pretty much everyone I knew showed up for a BBQ Birthday Bash! I still have the fire extinguisher that a youth group student, Kim, got for me because she figured I would blow myself up with the grill. And the vinyl picnic tablecloth (or is it tablevinyl?) that Monica got me. I still have memories of sitting around in a circle in our yard, talking with friends, and regularly asking my father-in-law, Roark, what I could use this grill tool for or how I could utilize this accessory. You see, I was a grill novice, and Roark was my mentor.

Over the years, I perfected the charcoal grill. I added a rotisserie, allowing us to grill whole turkeys at Thanksgiving and lamb roasts at Easter. One time I had a gallon of flat beer that a friend gave me from an Oktoberfest part. Not knowing what to do with it, I soaked a beef roast in it for a day and rotisseried it. Wow! It was amazing. I learned that grilling in Chicago in December is possible, but it takes a lot of charcoal and a lot of time. I also learned that grilling in Phoenix in July is possible, but the charcoal is unnecessary and is really just for affect. I learned how to smoke salmon on it, adjusting the temperature until it was perfect for smoking, leaving the salmon on it for eight hours. That was a life-changing experience.
She still looks great after 14 years.

I spent so much time cleaning that grill. The newer Weber Performers have plastic tops, but mine was the original Weber Performer. I cleaned and polished the stainless steel until it reflected the green enamel top. I regularly polished the enamel top to keep it looking like new. When I saw other people with Weber grills that were rusty and had holes, my pride swelled at my Weber Performer. For a 14 year old grill, it looked almost brand new. One would never have known the hundreds of hours I spent grilling on it...the abuse I put it through, grilling in snow and blazing heat and downpours.

And then we moved last year, and our house has a built in grill. My Weber Performer sat at the side of the house, protected and tarped, alone but not forgotten. I always thought that I would use it when I had a large number of people over, but I never did. After a year, I decided that it was time to say goodbye. And so I did.

Goodbye, friend.
I got choked up as I cleaned the stainless steel one last time. When a person responded to my Craigslist post, I immediately regretted listing this grill. As I loaded the grill into the back of his truck, waves of emotions, memories of all of the family gatherings and experiences, washed over me. And as I came inside, I wept. I wept for the grill that taught me to love grilling. I wept for the grill that I used for consolatory and celebratory food. Even as I write this, I wonder if I did the right thing.

My only hope is that this grill will bring as much joy and as many memories to its new family as it did to mine. I will miss you, old friend.



  1. Awww, this is touching! I think you did the right thing--sort of like in Toy Story 3 when Andy passes his toys on to Bonnie. Sure he could've saved them for the future, but this way they kept getting a lot of good use. I'm sure your grill is smiling on the inside at all the good memories.

    1. Wonderful. I think I might need to go out and buy Toy Story 3 as a memorial to the Performer. It would go nicely with the bottle of scotch that I bought for that same purpose.

  2. Way to be brave, Renaissance Dad. What does Renaissance mean? I'm glad I could be your mentor but you have moved well beyond my skill and experience on the Weber.

    1. I refer you to the February post titled "What is a Renaissance Dad?" I think that might clear up your question. And as far as the student becoming the master, I don't think that Daniel San ever could have beaten Mr. Miyagi, nor could Luke Skywalker have beaten Yoda.