Earlier this year I was substituting for the fourth grade team when I was “volunteered” to help with the campus cookout. I didn’t know what they were talking about. All I kept thinking was, “I’m not going camping with these kids. Hell, I don’t even want to go camping with my kids…Shit, I don’t want to go camping.” That’s when they explained to me that most of these kids have heard the word “camping” but have no idea what it means. We knew that we could use testing vocabulary and certain math formulas to help them learn through the day.
The teachers told me that I would be teaching fire safety, helping to set up tents, cooking hot dogs for the kids and chicken fajitas for the teachers and finally making S’mores for everyone. All I could think of was, “I get to eat, play with fire and grill on the job? Can I get an AMEN!!!?” When I got home, I started gathering the charcoal, lighter, portable grill, tongs, my apron and the mandatory Whataburger Ketchup and Mustard (gotta treat the kids to greatness, right).
As soon as I got to school that day, I started to set up. I felt like Al Bundy getting ready for his annual BBQ. That’s when they told me that I was also going to “teach” fire safety.
I wasn’t sure if I should handle that seriously like Smokey the Bear
or with a little comic flare like Fire Marshall Bill.
Either way, I knew that I was going to have fun (as much fun grilling without a beer as a man can have).
I had kids running around, picking up trash in order to have a “clean camp site”, setting up tents and getting ice for our Ice Cold Water. No matter what I was covering, the only question that I kept getting was, “What time are you gonna start the fire, Mr. Garcia?”
I was told to start the fire when NO STUDENT WAS WITHIN 15 FEET OF THE GRILL.
This rule made me start quoting Eddie Murphy … “NOW THAT’S A FIRE!!!”
I started the fire and began the show. The kids were watching me like I was a Vegas Magician or how most men watch the Hooters waitress. So I did my best to put on a show. Flipping the hot dogs here, twirling my tongs in one hand while no-look-passing the buns into the steamer … I was “on Fire” (figuratively). I even had to grill some of those Tofu dogs, still not sure if that would be still considered “grilling”.
I was on a roll until; one of the fourth grade teachers asked me for an extra crispy hotdog … that’s when I dropped about 6 dogs into the fires of Mt Doom.
That was the first time that I had seen a woman cry over a hotdog.
At that point, I felt more like Homie D’Clown
than Fire Marshall Bill
but I think that I made up for it when the sound of those chicken fajitas hit the grill. The sound penetrated the ears of every person over 25 within a 30 foot radius. People started showing up just to “check on the kids” but they walked straight to the grill then back to their class. I know that I’m not a chef or even a bad ass at the microwave but that day I made the grilling gods proud.
The kids all enjoyed their hot dogs and the teachers brought so much food that we had leftovers for 2 days … but the day wasn’t over yet. The S’mores had to begin. I’m not going to lie … this took 4-EVER!!! School gets out at 3:20pm and I was still handing out treats till almost 3:45pm. The things we do for our students, right?
Well after a quick clean up, some burned arm hair and a quick ride home, I felt pretty good about what we did for those kids. I guess they enjoyed their day so much that one of them wanted to share his/her hotdog with me. The bad part was that they hid it in my jacket pocket.
Oh well, sharing is caring.