THE SERVICE YARD — At a certain point in a guy's life, sex becomes a good barbecue.
Not all guys mind you — for some, sex becomes a 52-inch plasma TV.
But for those of us with the comfort-waist-expand-a-lot section in the closet, a smoked down-home barbecue is damn near a second honeymoon, with potato salad.
If I ran a perfume company, I'd dump out all that smelly stuff in those heart shaped bottles and pour in barbecue sauce.
A little bit of hickory flavor dabbed on your wifey's wrist — now that's romance right there.
Love is never having to leave the room when the Cooking Channel comes on.
Love is barbecue tongs, not thongs.
A man's best friend is his dog — a charcoal broiled foot long with mustard, relish and a hot sauce that melts fillings.
If not for barbecue sauce there would be no reason for chickens. I give pigs a pass because they doubled-down with that bacon thing.
To me, the service yard is a sacred place.
The bosses never lurk there.
When they wander, they go one way, I go another.
It's best that way.
So I had just pulled into yard, plugged in the iPod and was about to drift off when…
Bang, Bang. "db ..."
In parking lots I sleep with my Costas on so I can see who's yelling at me while I fake sleep apnea or death so they leave me alone.
"Hey db ... DB!"
The service guys know that trick, they taught me it.
On the other side of window is David "Happy" White, the Nitro whiz mechanic who once worked in a cave.
Whirl ... driver's side window down, Costas up on my forehead ... "Hey Happy, what's up?"
"db, you have got to see this ... YOU HAVE GOT TO SEE WHAT WE'VE GOT."
Now I've seen him like this before. Normally it involves some sort of mechanical thing, something about KVD, or a folding chair he just bought with a built in table and cup holder.
Not this time.
"db, I've got a big green egg."
Whirl ... window goes back up, Costas back down. I'm not looking but I know, KNOW, Happy is still standing on the other side of my window looking at me all "Happy" like.
"db, we've got it all locked up. Come on, I'll show you."
If Happy wants to show you something and it's not End of Days, trust me, you're going to see it.
So I walk down with him to the Mercury service trailer. Happy walks up to it, unlocks a deadbolt the size of my head, and swings open both doors and steps back.
I'm waiting for Fanfare For The Common Man to start playing when I suddenly notice that it appears that the service crew has somehow managed to lock a UFO inside the Merc Truck.
A Green UFO.
db: "What the hell is that?"
Happy: "It's a Big Green Egg."
db: "Does it fly? How'd you catch it? Does the government know about this?"
db: "Dude, I'm not sure we are allowed to own flying saucers. Have you looked inside it? What's in there?"
I'm speechless. Intergalactic travel fueled by a 5-pound bag of briquettes.
Happy, who has long suspected that not only does my elevator NOT go all the way to the top, but pretty much never leaves the ground floor, walks over to me, places himself between me and the UFO and says exactly this:
"db, it's a grill. It's for barbecue. YOU COOK WITH IT."
Catering Service Yard Style
Jay Anderson has been with Mercury since 1986.
He fixes things.
He invents things to fix things with.
He knows what a "Thing-a-ma-jig" is, and how to fix it.
I saw him fix Skeet Reese's trolling motor with a paper clip, and it worked.
If you're a broken thing, he's your worst enemy. He's smiling at the times most men are kicking and throwing the broken thing around the living room.
This is my first conversation with him:
JA: "I was watching this dvd in my room last night ..."
Normally I know where this is headed.
JA: " ... and I took notes ..."
Headed in a whole new direction ...
JA: " ... about how to cook biscuits on the grill."
New direction entirely.
I didn't bother to ask Jay whether he was married or had any kids. I basically forgot to, but if in fact he has kids, and Jay's kids can read this, you're out of the will.
Jay has basically just adopted a barbecue grill. The big green egg.
"I'm a little nervous about giving it up next week. I won't be in Decatur, Alabama, but Andy promised me he would take care of it."
Jay looks like he is going through separation anxiety. Andy looks like he just hooked a 200-pound largemouth.
Branden Franklin, who fixes Power Poles on the side while mainly studying the wizardry of the Big Green Egg pulls out this booklet that is like the history of the thing and tells me in the same voice that he uses to tell the Elite guys why their Power Poles aren't Power Poling, "It's just like a convection oven except it uses charcoal to cook the stuff."
And then they open the top of the egg, and inside is 10 pounds of pork tenderloins supplied by Darryl, the Lowrance whiz-guy.
JA: "One is cooked barbecue style (All the guys around the egg shake their head. This is the sex talk for 50-somethings.) and the other one I "injected" it with a jalapeño butter sauce. Saw that on a cooking show."
2 hours and 45 minutes later, he stuck a thermometer in the meat, it read 170-degrees and he announced, "Done."
Cleanup involved pouring water in the pans, putting pans in the Big Green Egg, bringing the water and dirty stuff to a boil, dumping out water and dirty stuff and locking the pans and grill thing back up in the Merc trailer.
A few minutes later my friend "Happy" was now "Sleepy."
Service Yard Catering by the Elite Barbecuers.
Don Barone is a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association. Other stories of his can be found on Amazon.com. For comments or story ideas, you can reach db at www.donbaroneoutdoors.com