Men have a strange attraction to fire. On the evening of any Fourth of July, you will see any number of males, eyes glazed over, making sure their own sparks fly. Women do not seem to have this compulsion. They look on, aloe vera in hand, just in case.
Men like fire. They make up most of the flame-broil cooks and arsonists.
This fascination with flame is made even more real in the backyards of homes across the world.
Sitting on most people’s patios are devices for burning either gas or charcoal along with meat. They are called barbecues — BBQs for cute. They generally are the domain of men.
Women tend to be more nuanced in their cooking. A woman can sauté or boil, but it often takes a man with burning coals to turn good meat into great meat or ash.
Barbecues began as fire pits in Neanderthal villages, where all the males gathered to roast their hunting prizes. They now come in many configurations and can cost as much as fire insurance itself.
In addition to being places to ruin meat, the pits were also social places. Men love campfires. A circle of rocks, a few logs, matches and flame all equal a contented group of guys. They spit. They talk. They watch the embers rise. A beer in the hand adds to the ambiance. It is genetic.
If you do not hold to the man-and-fire theory, just check out the ratio of men to women welders, asphalt layers and even firefighters.
Women use fire but usually do not get passionate about it. They know good uses for it, but they know its dangers, too. Men do not care about danger. We seem to thrive on inhaling soot.
You will not likely find many women out on the patio in 100 degree heat, Bud Lite in hand, proudly standing downwind from the raging flames and wearing a “Please Kiss The Cook” apron.
Women are smart enough to work in the kitchen making salad and thinking about alternative main courses, in case their men screw up the beef.
• Mike McLellan, an occasional contributor to the Tracy Press Voice section, can be contacted by calling and leaving a message at 830-4201 or e-mailing him at DrMikeM@sbcglobal.net.