“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 guess so. We don’t know much about barbecues.”

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

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

“Oh, hey,” Brittany says in excitement.

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 soo cute.” What’s with this girl? “Can you just get it going for us mister Dusty, sir?” she says, batting her eyelashes.

“Well, let’s see.” I grab the tank like The Hulk. “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 some left. What did you girls do to try and start the barbecue?”

Brittany starts shaking her hips. “I moved from side to side like this, Dusty.” She’s obviously had some alcohol or she’s 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 says. She walks closer to me. “There’s no need to be nervous with us. We don’t bite.”

“On the first date, anyway,” Brittany adds. They both laugh.

“I see, yeah that’s interesting.” 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, winking.

“Yeah, no, that’s…I get it. Let me try to light this puppy,” I say, as I start turning knobs. So many 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, winking at Summer.  She moves closer to me, placing her hand on my shoulder.

“I, uh…no, I’m good, I’ve lighted, or lit many barbecues.” 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 shitballs. I know that throat clear anywhere. Stella is standing beside the fence with a scowl that says I’m 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.