I WAS in the middle of my "Voila!" move - lifting the lid off the barbecue kettle cooker and admiring the sizzling chow - when embarrassment struck. The lid handle traveled upward in my hand. But the metal lid stayed smack-dab on the cooker. The welds securing the handle to the lid had given way.
Not only was this predicament impractical - moving a hot lid without a handle can be tricky - it was also downright disconcerting. A backyard barbecuer without a cooker handle is like a fish without water, a bee without a flower, a Republican without a tax cut. The core of my being was in question.
Obviously this was a household repair that couldn't wait the customary two-week period of contemplation. This required semi-immediate action. Two days later, I was on the job.
My plan was to drill holes in the metal handle and lid, then fasten them with nuts and bolts. It wasn't exactly rocket science, unless you count the repairs a few years ago on the Mir spacecraft.
A primary objective of this undertaking, as with all home repairs, was to pull it off without making a trip to the hardware store. This meant tapping my "stash," the collection of nuts and bolts that, like most guys, I have gathered during years of domestic captivity.
Every time I have come across a stray nut or bolt, I have saved it, putting it in a pocket, or on top of the bedroom dresser, or on in the spare-change bowl. Often, I have been questioned closely by my mate, who wanted to know what possible use this "junk" might have. To such questions, I have replied, "You never know."
Eventually these stray nuts and bolts have migrated, sometimes with assistance of my mate, to the basement workbench. There, they reside in jars, bowls and the occa- sional heap. To the untrained eye, the workbench may look like chaos. But to a man looking for a quick fix, this scrap heap is a vast domestic resource.
Yesterday morning, for instance, while searching for something to mend my broken barbecue cooker, I came across some nuts and bolts left over from a repair of the hall clothes tree. The bolts were as skinny as fashion models. They could easily wiggle through the narrow openings in the cooker lid, then slip through the small holes I'd drilled in the lid handle. Like many fashion models, the bolts were exceptionally tall, but a few minutes in the company of the hacksaw brought them down to size.
The first mosquito of the season buzzed in for a look around as I sat in the back yard and threaded the skinny nuts and bolts into place.
Once again I attempted the "Voila!" move. Once again the handle stayed in my hand while the lid stayed on the cooker. The weight of the lid was too much for the bolts.
It might be true that when you are a glamorous fashion model you can never be too thin. But when you are a bolt holding a barbecue cooker handle to its lid, you can. The two bony bolts snapped like pretzels, scaring the mosquito.
I went back to the scrap heap and found fatter bolts. I ended up using two bolts built like fireplugs. I think they once held a kid's bike together, or maybe a stove. To accommodate these wide bodies, I had to drill much larger holes in the handle. I ending up using a bit about the size of the one recommending for drilling an oil well.
Before the sun reached its zenith and before the mosquito had returned with friends, a barbecue cooker had been returned to service and a backyard barbecuer had been made whole. I could "Voila!" again.