It’s grilling season, which means you’re about to or already have been invited to plenty of cookouts. But before you show up in jeans with a list of dietary restrictions, peruse this gentle list of backyard best practices, because the last thing you want to be at a grill party is “That Guy.”

Photography by Nathan Perkel

Publicly support your grill master

Even if it’s not perfect, grilled meats and vegetables are still damn fine. And while it’s totally okay to make temperature requests for your meat, don’t whine if your burger comes out mid-rare instead of rare, and don’t pass judgment on the general cooking technique and strategy the host is using. And if you are going to lurk over the grill while Mr. or Mrs. Grill Master is at work, some appropriate comments include:

A: “Looks good”
B: “Hot out here”
C: “Yep.” [SIPS BEER]

Inappropriate comments might sound something like:

A: “Might want to flip that”
B: “Want me to take over for a minute?”
C: “The series finale of Lost was actually good and not bad” (this is always wrong)

Wear shorts of an appropriate length

When in doubt, err on the short side. Better to treat fellow guests with an ample thigh view than look like an overgrown toddler. If you’re thinking about wearing pants, rethink about that and apologize.

Photography by Nathan Perkel

Naps are permitted -- even encouraged

Meat + high temps + sun = sleepiness. It's probably the one time you can pass out a party without waking up to a Sharpie makeover. Messing with people when they're asleep isn’t a cool thing to do under normal circumstances… doubly so when, come on man, it’s hot out here and that guy just ate a baker’s dozen bratwursts.

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Photography by Nathan Perkel

Be cool, vegetarians

It’s fine that you’re vegetarian, commendable even, but don’t expect a vegetable main to be on offer (though some vegetarian sides aren't too much to ask for ahead of time). On the other hand, you should be given the respect of not having meaty-dripping pork butt-faces sloppily shoving burgers in your mug, saying things like, “We have low amounts of enamel on our teeth because humans weren’t meant to eat only vegetables.” Good job, Michael Pollan, now all the vegetarians and meat eaters can join in hating you.

Vegan, gluten intolerant, raw, and likewise must be doubly cool

The limit for polite requests is vegetarian. Alerting a host to your specific dietary restrictions is all good, and it’s okay to expect to not be poisoned/have your firm food convictions messed with. But don’t go making specific menu requests or expecting others to placate your needs. Embrace the spirit of the Greatest Generation and sit and suffer in stoic silence, except without the G.I.* Bill (or bring your own food).

*Gluten Intolerant**

**Or possibly Gastro-Intestinal

Photography by Nathan Perkel

Help clean up

Just because you’re outside doesn’t mean woodland nymphs and dryads will spirit away the 18 halves of potato bun that are somehow floating around and unmarried to their other half. Hike up those shorts (even higher!) and lend a hand.

Bring something

Can’t go wrong with a six-pack. Napkins are lame and you will be made fun of but at least it’s better than nothing. An inflatable kiddie pool, Slip’N Slide or similar water-based fun device? You’re a hero.

Keep your shirt on until the sun sets

An open button-down is acceptable and a good rule is to drop a button for every hour in attendance. Wearing a t-shirt? Sorry, you've got to follow the rule: sundown before strip-down. Why? Because the only beef up for discussion is what’s on the grill, not on your body.

“But now it’s cold out!” Too bad, Captain CrossFit. If nothing else, your steely torso will glisten all the more in the candlelight.

Photography by Nathan Perkel

Show your gratitude

Any dinner party requires an immense amount of preparation and social anxiety (“What if nobody shows up!? What if they don’t like my seasonal decorative candles!?” etc). Your grill master is dealing with that plus working over burning hot coals for hours at a time, literally inhaling smoke, risking burns from flare ups, and managing the finicky beast that is charcoal temperatures. It ain’t easy.

Don't be “That Guy”

You know who you are. You drop the totally unasked-for knowledge bomb that “grilling” and “barbecue” are not the same. We all know. Everybody knows. And nobody wants to be reminded of that tedious fact while they’re halfway through a double cheeseburger.

The ultimate rule is to have a good time and to not do anything that hurts others from having a good time. Being a BBQ know-it-all? There’s no faster way to make said good times go up in smoke.
 

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