Several years ago, shortly before Christmas, Hubby decided he wanted a smoker. Great, I thought. I know the perfect Christmas gift for him. Then he did what he always does—went out and bought one for himself. SIGH.

Hubby enjoyed playing with his newest toy. He thoroughly researched the various ways of smoking meats and sought advice from experienced smokers. He experimented with different types of wood chips. He tried soaking meats in apple juice. For a while, we ate smoked everything. His enthusiasm reminded me of when he got the urge to try deep-frying a turkey, except it was much more involved and almost as expensive. Smoking meat requires getting up in the pre-dawn hours to start the process. It requires frequent inspections to be sure there is adequate water and the temperature is just right.

To adequately smoke meat is an all-day event, after which is the massive cleanup. All the pans and the grills are covered in black residue which gets all over everything they touch. Washing them in the kitchen sink takes almost as long as the smoking, and leaves the sink, scrub brushes, and hands black. (Is blackened the same as smoking?) No, smoking is much blacker than blackened.

Not too long after we got the smoker, it died. Hubby was always going to “get around” to fixing it, hence it graced our front porch for the next several years, where it sat getting progressively more rusty. If it weren’t so heavy, I might have moved it into a storage shed where it would have had some protection from the elements and not been an eyesore. But I couldn’t move it by myself, so I got used to the contraption taking up porch space and learned to work around it.

Finally, last week, with relatives coming for a visit in a couple of weeks, Hubby got the bug to get the smoker working. He spent quite a while fiddling with the apparatus out in the sideyard. Since I had no idea how to get the device workable, and therefore, could be of little help, I left him to do his “man” thing while I tried to get some chores done inside.

Fortunately, I was sitting at the computer in our bedroom right next to the front porch when I heard Hubby scream my name. His tone of voice was different from the way he usually summons me away from what I’m doing to come “hold something” for him, so I sprang up to see what he wanted. I looked in horror as he directed the water hose to a blazing inferno on our side lawn. He had the propane tank hooked up to the smoker, and the fire raged right over the valve to turn it off.

“Get a blanket!” he ordered.

I thought of the old dog blanket I had tossed in the laundry room trash that morning, and, not wanting to sacrifice one of our good blankets, raced down the steps, retrieved the blanket, and scurried back out to the yard. Hubby threw the blanket over the blaze, which immediately consumed the blanket.

“Get a pitcher of water!” he yelled.

Back I ran into the kitchen to retrieve a pitcher, and filled it in the bathtub, which puts out water faster than the kitchen sink. I managed to get the pitcher outside without spilling half of the water down the hall. However, by then, Hubby had managed to put the fire out with the hose. After a few minutes, he was able to turn off the propane tank.

“Well, that’s it. The smoker’s not fixable,” he pronounced.

We each took a side and moved it to the trash, where we said a final goodbye. I couldn’t help thinking if only we had done that a few years ago, our porch might not have looked like the Clampetts lived at our house. However, I now have the perfect idea for Hubby’s Christmas present. On second thought, he will probably go buy a new smoker this weekend.