ISSUE 79

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 This summer create a barbeque people will call off their mother’s funeral for and push past “Dozen Dead Bees Found On Sidewalk” to headline the Daily Camera. Like a guide for talking to someone you like or cutting your own hair, this leaves out some necessary parts, but with enough effort, you too can produce something vaguely like what you imagined.   
 Q: Who do I invite to my barbeque?
 A: Choosing who to invite is like putting together a puzzle, except it’s three puzzles mixed together and if you put them together wrong, you have to call the police.
 Sprinkle introverts, layer with extroverts, and have a foundation of people with healthy appetites. Top with one or two people who can take any comment and somehow make it about themselves and pair with several excellent nodders, who hover awkwardly around the brownies.
 Q: Should I invite Doug though?
 A: No.
 Q: In today’s political climate, how do I bring people together?
 A: When your guests arrive, give them a card with inoffensive subjects to talk about: favorite colors, gravel, the current date, shoelaces, tomatoes, compliments on the potato salad, and pets up to a certain point.
 Hard drugs also have a way of bringing people closer. When no one can figure out if the vampire clowns are real or a hallucination, they suddenly forget their opinion on abortion, immigration, climate change, meat, popular movies… basically anything other than Bozo and his gang of rosy-cheeked lunatics becomes irrelevant.
 Tense situations with a chance of death prosper community too. Think chipmunks with no sense of boundaries or hiding uncooked ground beef under random chairs and taking Dozer off his leash. You could also just put Martha in charge of the seating arrangements.  
 Q: What about the food?
 A: Delegating who should bring what allows you to trust people who are incapable of mowing their grass and park like idiots. Nothing, absolutely nothing could go wrong. 
 Q: What if the barbeque explodes?
 A: To some people, this is simply another Fourth of July with the family. To others, it’s a sign the vampire clowns do not mess around. In either case, you have created a situation in which the group must work together to save Scott, who was tending the hamburgers and those strange vegan hot dogs.
 If Scott cannot be saved, at least it’s something the group can talk about that’s not offensive—gruesome, yes; offensive, no. I was getting some coleslaw and talking about my shoelaces when suddenly Scott’s engulfed in flame. Talk about a great barbeque! 
 Q: What if the barbeque doesn’t explode?
 A: This is okay. Some say this situation is ideal, flaming projectiles generally being unwanted in any get-together. Others say this assumes too much as regards the neighborhood kids.   
 Q: What attitude should I take towards selfies?
 A: Group selfies are okay. One to two personal selfies are fine. Selfies of someone and their hamburger are weird, unless it’s a really awesome hamburger. Then, it might be okay.   
 Q: I’ve had a strained relationship with my daughter ever since she started dating her current boyfriend. He’s a real deadbeat—works a menial job, writes poetry, inadequate sense of how to dress. I’ve tried talking to her about it but unfortunately she shuts me out whenever I do. I’m running out of options. How do I make her change?
 A: This seems irrelevant, unless your daughter is in charge of the potato salad and her relationship is somehow affecting her ability to buy some from King Soopers. If this is the case, you should disown your daughter and her boyfriend, even though he sounds all right. Disowning someone is always the right choice. It’s like bulldozing your house down when the faucet starts leaking.  
 And that’s it. This is all you need for a successful barbeque. If you have any other questions, you’re thinking too hard. Kick back, relax, and check under your seat for raw meat.
   
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