The Punch Will Lie To You

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

The Punch Will Lie To You

Have you ever gone to a party where everything that could go wrong…..did? This is one of my favorite memories of a bar-b-que that I “attended” back many years ago

The Punch Will Lie To You

Have you ever gone to a party where everything that could go wrong…..did? This is one of my favorite memories of a bar-b-que that I “attended” back many years ago

Bruce was usually the perfect host, he paid particular attention to always cooking enough meat for everyone to gorge on, enough beer and liquor so everyone was happy, enough dazzle to make everybody envious of his parties.

Bruce was preparing for one of his epoch parties for about 3 weeks in advance. He decided his current bar-b-que pit wasn’t large enough to cook all the meat he wanted to serve soooo….he made a bigger one. He found a big 36 inch diameter pipe about eight feet long and decided that was the way to go. Hired a welder to weld end caps on cut 3 big hinged doors, make an exhaust pipe, and a hinged cleanout door on the side. You can get those about anywhere these days but 35 years ago, you either had to be a welder or hire one. The pipe was ½” thick which made the doors really heavy so he had a counterweight system installed on the doors to help open them. The doors weight about 100 pounds each and it took more “fanny” than Bruce had to offer, hence the counterweight system. It was an “engineering” marvel. With the help of a small crane, the finished product was unloaded from the trailer and set on the patio in his back yard.

OK, Bruce has a professional and commercial grade bar-b-que pit right where he wants it. What’s next? Fuel for the bar-b-que, of course! Bruce bought a “chord” of mesquite for bar-b-cueing because everyone knows that it tastes better when is cooked over mesquite. (A chord of wood measures four feet high by four feet wide by eight feet long (4 ft. x 4 ft. x 8 ft.) and has a volume of 128 cubic feet. The amount of solid wood in a cord varies depending on the size of the pieces, but for firewood it averages about 85 cubic feet.) Common knowledge in west Texas, right? What is also common knowledge in west Texas is that the wood in a new “chord” is rarely cured and is sometimes “green”

Time is ticking down for the big party so Bruce decides he will buy a half beef for the party, even though his bar-b-que pit is big enough for a small herd of medium size cows. It is delivered, cut up, wrapped, and ready to go. Oops, better get some sausage and chickens. Now Bruce has a dilemma, his refrigerator is not big enough for all the meat and the tater salad, beans, and other fixins’ for his party. The solution would be to get some ice chests but not Bruce, he buys another refrigerator that he can put on the porch under the patio cover and everything will be handy. Right there where ya need it.

Now for the beverages! Way back when, there was a concoction known as “paco punch” (sometimes called “trashcan punch”, purple Jesus, jungle juice, etc.), this concoction usually was made in a new trash can and the initial ingredient was Everclear (everyone knows what Everclear is, it is 190 proof grain alcohol that can be drank or used for cleaning engine parts).  There were other names for it but that is the name I usually called it. “Paco punch” is a mixture of the grain alcohol, grape juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, apple juice, and various other bottles of liquor that may be poured into the trash can as guests arrive and make their contribution to the festivities. Oh, and then throw some cut up fruit in on top and top it off with a block of ice. Now Bruce is always thinking big so he buys a brand new shiny galvanized trash can and sterilizes it from the garden hose in his back yard (with the top, of course, to keep the roaches from contaminating the fresh sanitized trash can). The galvanizing insures the flavor of the beverage and adds to the bouquet when the alcohol etches the galvanizing and releases the “essence de galvanisation” as the French would call it or “galvanic poisoning” as we know it in west Texas.

The morning for the bar-b-que party arrives and Bruce is up early and making preparation for the party of the century. “Busy” in west Texas always must be compared to something to get the true meaning of “busy”. “Busy as a one-armed paper hanger”, “busy as a toothless beaver”, “busy as a 3 legged cat trying to cover a turd on a frozen pond”, you get the idea.
Guests started arriving around noon and Bruce busies himself with icing down beer, making tater salad, making sure the beans don’t scorch, and getting the “paco punch” started just right. One of the problems is the start of the “paco punch”, Bruce has decided that a single fifth of Everclear is not enough so Bruce determined that a gallon is the best starting point and he proceeds from there. One of the best parts of making the punch is the tasting, it has to be just right!! After a couple of hours of preparation and presentation, the scene is set. As more guests arrive and contribute to the punch, Bruce is committed to insure it isn’t tainted by anything that would make it undrinkable so he continues to “taste”. Lo and behold, Bruce’s continual tasting has left him somewhat inebriated but still functional or at least upright. 
It is time to load the bar-b-que pit with the mesquite wood and get it to the correct temperature to accept the perfect combination of meats and cook them to the most savory stage of doneness and taste. As stated before, this was a new chord of wood and a lot of it had not had time to get “seasoned” or dried to the perfect point for smoking meat. Bruce sprinkles some charcoal briquet lighter fluid on it and attempts to light the wood on fire, figuring the heat will sufficiently dry the wood to take off. This failed miserably so Bruce retreats to the “punch bowl” to contemplate his dilemma. As expected, the “punch” has whispered in his ear a solution to the problem of drying the wood. “I’ll use some Coleman Lantern Fuel, it burns better and hotter and doesn’t leave a terrible aftertaste like gasoline or diesel” Bruce proclaims. Several of us attempt to quell this idea with negative discussion but the “punch” is still whispering to Bruce, “go ahead, it will be fine” it evidently said to the “Pacoed Bruce”. Bruce disappears to the garage and returns with a fresh gallon of the Coleman Lantern Fuel.
I am thinking about this time that it may be a good time to ask Bruce’s wife to intervene as I suspect the “punch” has stepped up it’s volume in Bruce’s ear and that his judgement may be a little impaired. I could see her through the sliding glass doors from the patio. She was showing one of her girl friends her brand new glass top coffee table that Bruce had purchased for her as a concession for buying a new refrigerator for the patio. It was truly a beautiful piece, dark hardwood mahogany and a 1/2 inch thick glass top about 3 feet in diameter. I heard someone shout “Whoa, Bruce, that’s enough” and turned in time to see Bruce flip the empty Coleman Lantern Fuel can toward the trash. I took the opportunity to holler “Bruce, don’t you light that, it’ll flare up and burn you” and turned back to see if Bruce’s wife was through with her conversation and saw that her and her guest had returned to the kitchen.
Evidently the “punch” had another solution to the problem. Bruce closed the doors on the pit and walked around the pit to the back of it and decided to drop a match down the smoke stack. The stoichiometric mixture for gasoline to explode in a combustion engine is the ideal ratio of air to fuel that burns all fuel with no excess air. For gasoline, the stoichiometric air/fuel mixture is about 15:1, in other words: for every gram of fuel, 15 grams of air are required. This is a law that is usually learned in college engineering classes. In west Texas, we just know it’s a BAD thing. Way back when this story took place, we just knew it was best to never ignite a fire with fuel in a closed space. Coleman lantern fuel was actually AVGAS or aviation fuel that had a much higher-octane rating than regular or ethyl gas. Some may remember it’s green tinge, yeah, that’s AVGAS. 
The result of the gasoline enclosed in the giant bar-b-que pit when contacted with a lit kitchen match was apparent immediately. This 1,000 pound pit jumped into the air about 2 feet and came clanging back down onto it’s legs and stayed up right. The doors did not fare as well, one blew off the front of the bar-b-que pit and impaled itself in the door of the new refrigerator, the second door blew off and went through the sliding glass door and destroyed the new glass top coffee table that was so prized by Mrs. Bruce, the third door thankfully just hung there by one hinge but did clatter quite a bit. The rain cap on the smoke stack disappeared forever, maybe it went into orbit in outer space. The French accused the US of destroying one of their communication satellites that year….we will never know. The wood caught fire nicely and would be ready to cook on within the hour…..if anyone was still there in an hour.
Thankfully, no one was hurt, most everyone was gathered around the punch “bowl” trying to catch up with Bruce and there was no one in the living area where the beloved glass top coffee table met its demise. Bruce, however, did not fare as well as everyone else. While he was not badly burned, he did lose his eyebrows, mustache, and sideburns (everyone had sideburns back then).  There was that “awkward silence” while the echoes from the explosion and the banging of metal against concrete subsided. The look on his face was purely hilarious and, once I had determined he wasn’t suffering from anything worse than scorched facial hair, I laughed so hard I almost cried. When the scorched remnants of his mustache fell off his lip and spiraled to the floor, I couldn’t hold it in. of course, everyone else joined in and laughed and poor Bruce stood there with a hairless upper lip and no eyebrows (or sideburns) and nervously laughed with us, possibly still struggling with the voice of the “punch”.
Now….NOW, Mrs. Bruce made an appearance. The details of the conversation with her significant other is lost over the years but I remember it did not start with “Honey” or “baby”. The party was pretty much over. 
Bruce had to give away most of the meat and “fixins’” as the new hole in the new refrigerator door was too big for the refrigerator compressor to overcome (the duct tape couldn’t seal that big of a tear in the metal skin and plastic internals) and the food would spoil quickly in the west Texas heat, even under the shade of the patio cover. Mrs. Bruce had exited to the sanctuary of the bedroom and the guests kind of slinked (slunked?) away. The preparations of 3 solid weeks and probably $1000 was for naught.
Bruce eventually was allowed to have other parties but he was required to relegate the “punch” duties to someone that was not allowed to have anything to do with the lighting of the bar-b-que pit. He eventually grew back his mustache and eyebrows. His sideburns were never very impressive as he only had about 12 hairs to make the sideburns, Bruce was fairly baby faced.
Some of us chipped in to buy Mrs. Bruce a replacement coffee table and she guarded it with a vengeance, you better have a coaster under anything you put on her table.
These were good times, sometimes I wonder how any of us lived as long as we have.
 Daniel Harry

Submitted: January 15, 2018

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