“Do you know how to start a barbecue?” she asks. “Brittany’s trying to light it now, but it just keeps clicking or something.”

“Yeah, sure. It could be out of propane,” I say.

“I guess so. I don’t know much about barbecues,” she replies.

I’d wager she doesn’t know much about much. “Ah, they’re pretty straightforward, let’s give it a whirl.”

She jumps up as if to get ahead of me. “That’s the spirit, Dusty.” She walks in front of me, intentionally wiggling her behind, as if to give an old fella a treat for helping her out. Not my cup of tea, I just try to look at everything else. “Hey, girl, this is Dusty,” she says to Brittany.

“Oh, hey.” Brittany says excitedly.

For god’s sake, a long-haired, tanned blond in a skimpy red bikini with white edges? This can’t get any worse.

“Oh, ha,” I say awkwardly. “Did you happen to check the tank?” Did I really just say, “Oh, ha?”

“C’mon, seriously?” Brittany replies. “Do I look like a tank-checker? That’s sooo cute,” she says, in true California Valley girl fashion.

What’s with this girl?

“Can you just get it going for us mister Dusty, sir?” she says pouting and batting her eyelashes.

“Well, let’s see,” I say, grabbing the tank. “You can tell, first, by the weight of the tank. This one feels like it’s border line. So if you shake it from side to side, you can tell there’s propane in it. This one’s got a little left. What did you girls do to try and start the barbecue?”

Brittany looks at me and starts moving her hips from side to side and says, “I moved from side to side like this, Dusty.” She’s obviously had some alcohol or she’s just very confident in her hips. “Am I doing it wrong?”

“Uh…no…uh…yes, if you are trying to light the barbecue,” I say with a nervous chuckle.

“Are you nervous, Dusty?” Summer said. She walked closer to me. “There’s no need to be nervous with us. We don’t bite.”

“On the first date, anyway,” Brittany adds with a grin and a wink toward Summer.

“I see, yeah that’s interesting,” I say. God I’m as flustered as I don’t know what.

“We’re totally playing with you, don’t worry, we’re just having some Friday night fun,” Summer says with a smile.

“Yeah, no, that’s…I get it. Let me try to light this puppy,” I say as I start turning knobs. My god there’s a thousand knobs. Apparently Landon’s barbecue is not your run of the mill family barbecue. It’s some fancy multi-level catering barbecue. What a shocker. Holy crap, I’m nervous. Gosh, I guess I haven’t been around pretty girls like this for a while; it kind of feels nice.

“Dusty, do you really know how to light this?” Summer says. “It seems like you might forget how to heat something up, maybe?”

Okay, now I know I’m not in Kansas anymore. And these girls are getting a big kick out of my nervous schoolboy routine.

“Yeah, Dusty, maybe you need a little help yourself,” Brittany says, as she winks at Summer and moves closer to me, placing her hand on my shoulder.

“I, uh…no, I’m good, I’ve lighted, or lit many barbecues,” I reply. Seriously? Lighted? God, I can’t even talk, I’m so nervous. But I have to say, it’s bitter sweet. Sweet because I am thoroughly enjoying the attention, but bitter because I’m twice their age and I should be in my own living room watching sports.


Holy frigging mother of shit-balls! I know that throat clear anywhere. I look over at the fence, and Stella (MY WIFE!) is standing there looking like I’ve been doing something wrong—very wrong. I feel like a cat caught in the blinds when its owner walks through the door. Or a middle-aged man talking and smiling with college girls who have their hands on his shoulder. This is NOT what it looks like. Wait, it’s totally what it looks like. DAMMIT.

“Oh, hi Stella,” I say, “Uh…how was the meeting?”

“Not as good as this one, apparently” Stella says, without missing a beat.