IN 1987, a quarter of a century ago, I lived in Spain. On our balcony was a hibachi that the previous tenant had left behind with a chicken-wire cooking surface. It was better than nothing, but the alternatives just weren’t there. The Spanish didn’t worship at the altar of mesquite and you weren’t going to find a barbeque grill anywhere within several hundred, if not thousand, miles.
On a sunny day just like today my wife and I went to the base exchange to get something and as we walked into the outer lobby we darned near fell over. There, right in front of us, was a pile of boxes that contained WEBER grills.
This being 1987, the Navy Exchange didn’t do plastic (or, if they did, we didn’t have the card with us.) We didn’t have the cash to make it happen in our pockets. I left my beautiful bride sitting on top of one of those boxes as I hopped on my motorcycle and headed home to get cash. There was simply no time to waste. These beauties had arrived on a ship, there were a limited quantity, and if I didn’t have cash in hand the pile would be gone within an hour. Word spread quickly when the exchange had something worthwhile to sell.
Thirty minutes later I returned with a fist full of dollars. We paid for our grill and lashed it on the back of the motorcycle. The Spanish Guardia Civil (kind of a national police force) were amused by this giant box on the back of my Yamaha as we went through the customs point outside the base.
I even took a picture of the grill when we put it together so that I could taunt my shipmates who hadn’t been lucky enough to stumble in and find the bounty that day. I still carry that picture in my wallet. On one of my submarine trips I put my photos on my equipment bay. There were several snapshots of my beautiful wife and… the Weber. The Skipper of one boat was admiring the pictures and stopped short when he saw the grill. He pointed at it and said, “Exactly what is that?”
I proudly replied, “It’s a Weber 70,000 series grill, Sir.”
He walked away muttering. One more member of the “he’s nuts” club had paid his membership in full with the look he gave me that day.
But, after 25 years outside, an Old English Sheepdog who chewed the handles off, countless hail storms, snow falls, rusted ash traps, rusted grill surfaces, a damper that no longer moved, and dents beyond number it was due to go to the scrapyard. In it’s place is a very nice Bubbakeg. It’s a smoker as well.
But it will never be the Weber I hauled around the world.