Tom's 10 Rules of Summer Barbecue Etiquette

Here they are...

  1. Elect one grillmeister for the day. Do not mess with his grilling technique, even if he chars hamburgers beyond recognition.
  2. Never put ketchup on a hot dog, unless your child under 14 years of age refuses to eat it any other way.
  3. Beer coolers should be scrubbed with Brillo and bleach precisely once per barbecue season – at the beginning. There’s no need to clean them at any other time.
  4. Grill tools are to be used for grilling only and should never leave the area immediately surrounding the grill, save for cleaning. There is nothing more frustrating than spending 20 minutes looking for something as silly as hot dog tongs.
  5. The dog has legal rights to all burgers, chicken, hot dogs and steaks that fall on the ground or any such items that fall through the grill and can be safely retrieved. The cat gets any fish or lobster fragments.
  6. There are three acceptable answers to the question, “How would you like your steak?” Those three answers are “Black as your soul,” “Medium” and “Still mooing.” Anyone that requests “lightly seared on the outside, but pink on the inside” will be banished to the Hamptons forever.
  7. Acceptable barbecue games: horseshoes, beer ball, drinking croquet, Beirut, bocce, wiffle ball, Zoom/Schwartz, President-Asshole, speed quarters and flip cup. Unacceptable barbecue games: badminton, regular croquet, Pictionary, lawn darts, throwing the Frisbee around like a hippy, hacky sack, whale tails, zoomy zoom.
  8. Insect protection should take the form of dozens of tiki torches filled with citronella oil and an electric bug zapper. Hosts are not required to stock “Skin So Soft,” Off! or any other bug repellant that doesn’t work.
  9. Be mindful of the carefully-crafted beer consumption strategy. There’s the limited quantity of Kickoff Beer, which is usually premium stuff like Philosopher’s, Guinness, McSorley’s, Sierra Nevada, etc. Then there’s the crap beer – Bud, Coors Light, Pabst Blue Ribbon, etc. You are supposed to drink the Kickoff Beer until you get a buzz, then switch to the crap beer. You’re a chucklehead if you drink Kickoff Beer and never switch over. You’re a saint if you start out with crap beer and leave your Kickoff Beer for others.
  10. The charcoal-propane fight has already been fought and propane is the victor. Charcoal is great for steaks, burgers and hot dogs, but do you want your salmon steak to have a smoky, mesquite flavor? I didn’t think so. Besides, I’d rather refill my propane tank once a month at the beer store than have to go to Wal-Mart for giant bags of charcoal every time I want to grill. Don’t bring up charcoal’s supposed superiority. Your arguments will fall on deaf ears.