By order of the family, I have been called upon this Thanksgiving to demonstrate my manliness.
I have been asked to fry a turkey.
I know, this isn't exactly as tough as more ancient tests of manhood, like chasing down a mastadon and clubbing it to death. It's not even as difficult as staying awake during a county government committee meeting.
But demonstrating the ability to fry a turkey has become a modern masculine rite of passage, right up there with getting a tattoo or beating your kids at Halo.
Except for the tattoo - which I was going to get, really, until the feds shut down Colur Tyme Tattoo last week - I guess I've already passed those tests. I'm a pro at wasting time with Halo, and though it's been about five years, I have been known to boil up a vat of peanut oil and use it to transform an otherwise healthy hunk of poultry into a charred chunk of artery-clogging fat.
I admit I've been a little skittish about lighting up the propane burner, however, since hearing about a friend's frightening experience. A couple of years ago, this friend was removing a turkey from the outdoor cooker on her Augusta patio when she accidentally tipped over the pot of oil.
The searing liquid not only cascaded down her leg, but it also filled her shoe - at least, the part that wasn't already occupied by her flash-fried foot.
In my turkey-frying debut, the worst thing I did was make a big, oil-spattered mess. This gal gave herself an ambulance ride to the burn unit, and has the ugly scars to prove it.
Fortunately, she was able to cover it up with a tattoo.
Bad as that sounds, I'm guessing turkey-fryer-related injuries aren't all that uncommon. Heck, when do guys ever consider anything fun without the risk of a little danger? Except maybe golf.
In fact, the emergency room could probably pass out a tip sheet, "Safety hints for frying a turkey," with one bullet point: "Don't."
Still, do Real Men let fear of searing, scalding oil burns scare us away from flexing our muscles at the cooker? Well, yes. In fact, as they've done for the past few years, the Harlem Lions Club will spend Thanksgiving morning frying up dozens of turkeys to fill orders for those who aren't quite up to the manly test. Their worst injury will probably be a couple of burned fingers from reaching in too early to sneak a sample.
So while their multiple, propane-fueled burners are roaring in unison and dozens of turkeys sizzling, I'll drag my lone cooker out to the driveway, fire up about three gallons of oil and get ready to prove my manliness.
But just in case, my wife is popping a small bird in the oven. Because behind every good man is a woman with the burn unit on speed-dial.
Speaking of the burn unit, the folks at Barnes and Noble Booksellers in Augusta are accepting Christmas donations of books for patients and families at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital.
It's a great cause, but it leads to a question that an awful lot of people ask: When is Columbia County going to get a bookstore?
Much of the business scuttlebutt has been about getting a Hobby Lobby at the next phase of Mullins Crossing, or the prospective arrival of Costco or Bass Pro Shops. But a bookstore? Not a peep.
I suppose we're somewhat spoiled by the new main library in Evans. It has a coffee shop, it's well-stocked with up-to-date books, and the Friends of the Library used-book store by the front doors offers hundreds of books for just a buck or two. And both Target and Wal-Mart have small book sections.
Still, I don't think we can really say we've "arrived" until we have a full-fledged bookstore. If anyone hears anything, let me know.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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