Being Grilled – As I Question My Manhood

James Anthony Ellis
Editor, Legacy Magazine

There are times in life when a man just needs to take a good hard look at himself and determine if he rises up to the challenges, stands strong in the face of adversity, acts as the man he needs to be and measures up to the masculine spirit within.

Oh of course there are moments when I am on fire, with all cylinders firing at the same time, accomplishing cool shit left and right.

And then there are other times, I’m like “Damn, what a wuss.” Are we allowed to say “wuss?” Only a wuss would ask such a question.

Yup, there are those times when I look upon myself as a man who may have missed out on refining some of the fine arts in the art of manliness: No cigar smoking, don’t own a power drill, wouldn’t know where to start with drywalling anything (a wall?), don’t like Tri-Tip or any meat really. Other than these missing masculine traits, I actually find it smart to ask for directions … I’d rather stay out of the mud at a mud race … and I haven’t really had a fist fight, unless you count Mike Maloney in the fifth grade, and that was more of a shirt tug of war.

But the big missing piece I have noticed of late – and it’s pretty embarrassing to even admit this – I have never in my life nor have I any ambitions … to … should I say it? Well OK –


The fact is I don’t even own a barbecue.

Somewhere over the past couple months I have noticed that grilling at a barbecue appears to be a man thing. I actually can’t even picture a female standing at a grill. Does that happen? I’m sure it does; I just haven’t ever seen it. But I have seen many a man – the same man who wouldn’t be found cooking anything in a kitchen – standing up at a BBQ, gloves on, turner in hand, wearing some sort of hat and donning the obligatory apron. Yes, a manly apron! Somehow among all the man experiences available to me, this is one that completely fell off my radar.

Though I realize the tone of this post may come across sardonic or sarcastic, I do truly wonder if I’ve missed the boat at times.

What is it about grilling that makes it such a masculine activity?

My father-in-law barbecued every Saturday, without really cooking ever in the kitchen. Men in my men’s division have spoken often about their cool grilling experiences, without ever talking about their awesome cuisine favs. Believe it or not, my men’s team meeting tonight I’ll be attending a potluck at the house of a teammate who will be – you guessed it – grilling!

What is this about?

Is it the outdoors aspect of the activity? Is it the primordial connection to fire (which man obviously discovered)? Does it hark back to a time when pioneers and cowboys would circle up around a crackling fire – obviously sparked by rubbing sticks together – and cook their kill? (I’ve seen it in old movies.) Or is it a way that a man can provide for a family … in a much more brute way than, say, simply shopping at Trader Joes?

In either case, I’ll just have to own my lot in life.

Not a smoker, not a meat eater. Not a griller.

I imagine there will be other ways I can take my stand. Step up when and where I can, perhaps hammer a nail if need be, bring some potato salad to a pot luck and write about some stuff that may make a difference in a man’s life.

And then of course, I can acknowledge and admire the work of the men who are able to go places and provide services – grilling, drilling, drywalling – that are needed as well.

I’m hoping there is a place for all of us, sharing a masculine spirit that goes beyond all physical and surface experience.

6 thoughts on “Being Grilled – As I Question My Manhood”

  1. A turner? You continue to keep me thinking, Ellis! Who knew? I’ve been referring to my tool of choice while arming the grill – a spatula! I now understand that the spatula goes by many other names. Depending on what country you’re in and what particular food you might be preparing, it can be called a “flipper,” a “tosser,” a “scraper,” or, as some British prefer, a “fish slice.” Turn and churn my grill seekers!

    1. It is my deep hope that this epic piece I have provided to all of humanity will kickstart a change – a revolution of sorts – wherein every flipper, tosser, scraper and spatula will now be termed “the turner.” I mean, shit, it turns stuff, right?

  2. Love it man!
    You’re peice has helped me come to grips with my lack of grilling skills. I can make raw meat, not raw, but it ain’t grilling brother. At least I don’t think so. My wife “Mans” the Qer. lol
    PS Doing drywall is over rated

  3. You’re damn right Ellis! It’s an effing “Turner!” If you say it’s a turner then it’s a turner! I’m backing you on this one bro :) I enjoyed your story!

    1. Thanks man.
      I’m thinking of expanding my reach by naming other basic household items.
      Let me know your thoughts.

      The spoon – now the “soup scooper”
      The fork – now the “meat stabber”
      The spatula – now the “flat thing that can help stir cake mixes in order to make cakes.”


      1. Love all of these but especially the last one! I used to call the television remote control “The Channel Changer”! Sounds like a 1950’s horror flick.

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