I’ve never been diagnosed with a terminal disease, but I imagine that news is a lot less devastating than learning you’re no longer allowed to grill on the deck of your second-story apartment. My lease has a clause that lets my landlord change the rules at any time, a provision I considered as meaningless as my wife’s warnings not to use the dishwasher to clean wine glasses, the good knives, or the cat. But on the first day of the year, the apartment’s management staff delivered the new policy along with the promise that I could appeal anything I found to be unfair by curling up and dying in any of the complex’s conveniently located Dumpsters.
I’m not a master chef, but I do enjoy holding raw meat over a fire just long enough to mildly diminish my chances of contracting Brucellosis. When I lived on my own, the grill allowed me to rise above my regular diet of microwaved hot dogs in favor of hot dogs I grilled, put in the fridge and then later reheated in the microwave. The taste difference was minimal, but the black singe marks on those vaguely meat-like wieners always made me feel a little bit less pathetic than I really was. A grill is both cheaper and warmer than a therapist.
Under the new rules, I could technically let a known terrorist stay in my apartment as long as I didn’t keep him here for more than seven days. Anyone who grills on the second floor, however, can expect a swift trip to Guantanamo Bay.
The main reason I’m so mad about the policy change is that I picked this apartment specifically because it allowed grills on the second floor. Through my exploitation of this lack of statutory respect for fire safety, I learned to prepare more challenging foods, like slightly plumper hot dogs. After I got married, I grilled even more often to pretend that I was contributing to the household, an illusion that would often shut up my wife for minutes at a time. I eventually came to realize that the grill aptly symbolized my marriage, both of which are poorly constructed and filled with flammable gas. The latter marked my only meaningful contribution to the relationship.
Since the apartment complex’s ban on grilling could cause irreversible harm to my diet and my marriage, my only choice is to look for loopholes in the new rules. The text of the ban says that apartment residents on the second floor cannot grill “on the deck.” The work-around for that particular phrase is fairly obvious:
This picture is just blurry enough to be inconclusive. Most think it shows an indoor grill, but others argue that it depicts a fridge or possibly a mountain lion.
I was so pleased with my idea that I considered patenting it, but I soon found out that someone already invented an indoor grill. It’s called a stove. If the landlord really thought through his grill ban, he’d realize that the safest place for me to prepare my food is on the deck, where the number of walls I could potentially ignite is reduced by one. I don’t use the oven much, but my attempts to make toast have resulted in no fewer than two toaster fires in my lifetime. Really, allowing me to be indoors at all is an immense fire hazard, regardless of whether I’m preparing chicken on an indoor grill of running cold tap water over an already moist sponge.
Even though indoor grilling is not specifically forbidden under the new rules of my lease, I might lose my security deposit when I cut the necessary eight-foot-wide ventilation hole in my ceiling. If I can’t grill inside, my next option is to keep the grill hidden on the deck and use it only in quick, secretive bursts. There’s an outdoor closet attached to the deck where I could hide the grill in between meals, but the propane-fueled wonder will break apart if I move it too much. My former roommate and I spent upwards of three hours putting the thing together, a process that required us to bend, twist and sometimes molest an unnerving number of parts. The fact that the grill still stands calls into serious question the law of gravity and several other basic tenets of modern physics.
I need a way to hide the grill from prying eyes without frequently moving it, a challenge that generated the following clever solution:
Before: a grill.
After: no grill.
If you’re wondering where the grill went, you’re not alone. There’s no way anyone on the apartment’s staff will be able to find my precious food preparation aid when its camouflage is activated. I am concerned, however, that birds unaware of the grill’s invisible presence might fly into the contraption, thereby disabling its state-of-the-art cloaking mechanism. That’s why I came up with one more way to preserve my constitutionally-protected right to grill.
Upon rereading the new rules, I discovered that you can’t grill on the second story, but you can have children. The policy says nothing about grilling things on or in your children. That’s how I came up with this solution:
He has his mother’s confused, satanic eyes and his father’s sexy grill-shaped head.
The new rules don’t have a provision for paternity testing, and my son’s inhumanly blockish skull and suspect dental arrangement cause him to look a disturbing amount like me. Furthermore, there’s no provision in the lease to kick out children who are ill, so I don’t see how they can complain if my son occasionally has a fever of 450 degrees. As far as I’m concerned, cracking open his head to warm my hamburgers isn’t grilling; it’s good parenting.
Now that I have a solid plan, I’ve decided to take the risk of moving the appliance to the outdoor closet, where it can safely wait out the winter. A grand battle with the leasing office looms in the warmer months ahead. Until then, sleep well son.
The grill lies dormant, peacefully dreaming of its next chance to burn down the entire apartment complex.