Ten years ago, when men of a certain age gathered, they were playing golf, burning cigars, and retiring to poker and perhaps a happy evening- ending lap dance at a smokey gentleman’s club.
Things have changed. Golf courses are largely empty now, poker is so last century and women smoke cigars too, which changes everything. So, what are guys doing now?
We are making stuff. Look around, guys are becoming remodelers, brewers, gardeners and cooks. We are becoming artisans and I’m all in.
I just bought a smoker. For a gathering tonight of about 30 close friends, I’ve rubbed, marinated and slowly cooked 15 pounds of meat over the last two days. I’ve soaked wood in water, become intimately familiar with terms like bark, dry rub, pork butt and flavor profile (we used to call it taste). I’ve learned to make a “brush,” the difference between applewood and hickory and why you have to wrap your meat in aluminum foil for the last two hours of smoking.
My newly self-built stone patio is no place for K.D. Lang and her vegetarian buddies: There’s meat in the air.
Just for the record, it’s not like I live in the country hills of Carolina and am a survivalist smoking meat to get me through a hard winter. Nope, there is a Publics one mile north of me and another one a mile south. There’s a pretty good Barbecue joint in town and, actually, I don’t know if I’d know good barbecue from bad anyway.
Why have I become a smoker of meat, then? I wish I could tell you, all I can say is the smoke called me, just as it is calling guys to brew beer and whiskey is calling the new home distiller off the barstool. We are making food, taking up woodworking and making coffee tables out of surfboards. I partly blame cable TV, I dare you to watch an episode of Barbecue Pitmasters and not think about grilling your very own pork cheeks or the ever elusive tri-tip. I blame the other part on the Creative Revolution.
Men are dying to be artists too, but you wouldn’t know it by popping into your local art class or writer’s workshops which are almost entirely populated by women. Nope, men want something with danger, power tools and hair on it. (Bonus points if we might burn the house down and get to drink or eat the fruits of our labor.) Sexist? Maybe a little, but that doesn’t make it less than true.
Golf never pays you back. It demands practice, lots o’money and too many long Saturdays waiting for the three groups ahead of you to play the par three. Cigars are an acquired and oft-unacquired taste. Poker is expensive and, truth be told, strip joints are the most depressing places on earth. You drive home from a vacation in the great hole of Calcutta with more self esteem and optimism than you do from a night in a strip club.
Men want to express themselves too and quilting or mixed media art are not going to cut it for most of us.
“Well Larry, I think you really could incorporate your Daddy’s favorite Playboy Centerfold into that decoupage nicely if you used a little lace…”
Creation is omnipotent. We all want to be artists, craftsman or at least givers of good pulled pork. When we make stuff we feel proud, intrigued and maybe even FULL.
I’ve got some mushrooms in the smoker now, should go great with the just finished brisket and pork butt. Umm, a good home brewed beer might be the perfect beverage to wash all this down with…