Essentially Ashland: By Lance Pugh — Although I had not fired up my propane barbeque since early last fall, I felt that all would be well as I opened up the main valve, then the four burners.

Although I had not fired up my propane barbeque since early last fall, I felt that all would be well as I opened up the main valve, then the four burners. Just as I had done this my cell phone rattled awake and the call was from a friend who had been banging on the front door as I had been out back cleaning the grill for use that night.

My friend and I sat on the front porch talking in all cardinal directions. Soon he departed and I re-entered the house, trying to remember what I had last been working on. I wandered out back and took in a honk full of propane and realized that I had neglected to click the piezoelectric starter, so the raw gas just kept building up to a dangerous level.

I was concerned that, if I tried to turn things down at this late date, an errant spark might turn my barbeque into a Bikini Atoll. I got on all fours and tippy-kneed and spider fingered up toward the grill and decided to light things with a log lighter from below, as the flames would most assuredly leap upward when ignited and I would be beneath the anticipated conflagration.

I wished that I had the expertise of the late Red Adair, who could put out an oil well fire in an hour with a can of soda pop and a squirt gun, while his competition needed a tsunami of water, truckloads of explosives and several months to accomplish the same result.

I wanted to avoid a large explosion and continued my pinky-toeing toward the grill, getting into a position Red Adair would have done in a blink. Positioned under, but in front of the gas bomb, I clicked the log lighter and felt my body being crushed by a pressure wave not unlike when an atomic bomb was detonated near a fake town in some glowing Nevada desert many decades ago.

Some minutes later the fog lifted from my brain and I struggled to my feet to ascertain the extent of damage caused by the explosion and fireball. It took a few minutes to reconstruct events, but I finally put it together. The explosion had blown the cover off the grill and propelled it 30 feet into the limbs of our walnut tree. The grill and griddle were launched over the garden and into the alley. Other than my singed eyebrows and moustache, I could find no further damage, aside from what you might expect a stick of dynamite to do.

Just as I finished lugging the grill and griddle back into the yard, a fire truck pulled up and two firemen charged into the yard ready for anything. I walked calmly into the storage shed and emerged with a lariat that I kept handy for odd uses. With all the aplomb of a roper at a rodeo, I lassoed the cover of the barbeque and gave it a sharp pull, freeing it from the grasp of the branches. It crashed to the ground with a thud, barely missing the rototiller and lawnmower. I really should have moved my bicycle before tugging on the rope, but was in such a rush to get the evidence of my stupidity out of the tree that I overlooked some minor details.

The firemen checked the propane feed and burners and were amazed that the whole deal had not exploded, which would have taken out my kitchen and utility room. It was just then that my wife, Annette, arrived home, rushing out back to see what had happened.

"Well, at least you were not cooking anything when you tried to turn yourself into a human cannon ball."

I quickly answered: "Let us be frank here, I feel like a weenie. Just turn me over every five minutes and I will be fine."

Lance@journalist.com was last trying to rope squirrels in his side yard. The barbeque was taken to a metal shop for some serious welding. Feel free to fire him an e-mail if only to grill him a little.