Sweat trickles down the side of Andy’s face.
He has been at it for three hours without rest, food, or drink. Out in his backyard with no shade or shelter during the summer, he wonders if he might suffer a heat stroke. He reminds himself to Google the recommended time one should spend outdoors, and to set a timer next time. Andy is the kind of person who sets a timer for everything; and follows it. He once set a timer for how long he would wait for his girlfriend to return from the washroom before he drove off. She is an ex-girlfriend now. He also owns an Apple watch – it allows him to set a timer more easily. Andy loves his timers.
“Man. Why am I even doing this?” he mutters under his breath. Yet, he continues. Fanning and fanning, each wave of his forearm is filled with hope and longing; he has faith that it will all work out. That all his efforts will come to fruition. That he will succeed. After all, he has timed it.
Andy is spacing out now, daydreaming of the pleasure that awaits. The pain has become numbness but he keeps going. He makes a mental note of the time required for his arms to go numb. He reminds himself that nothing worth doing is ever easy, and that he has to work for his reward. He thinks about how he could have just picked up his phone and chose the easy way out. He thinks about how he could have spent the morning researching how fast to drink his coffee before it loses its optimal flavour. He thinks about the decisions he made in life leading to this moment. He thinks about…
Then, it happens. The shrill chimes of his Apple Watch telling him that his suffering is over. He drops the dreaded paper fan, light as a feather just three and half hours ago but now the very symbol of pain in Andy’s eyes. Putting on mitts, he pulls the foil wrapped object out from the heat and lay it on the table.
Having set said object down safely, he collapses on the grass exhausted. He sets a timer for fifteen minutes, as Andy will.
Fifteen exact minutes later, he stands up.
“It is time.”
He carefully opens up the foil package, as carefully as his excitement allows anyway. With trembling hands he unpeels the final layer, the last barrier between him and triumph. A gap emerged between the layers of foil. An explosion of aroma hits him – thyme, rosemary, garlic, butter and oh that glorious chicken.
That beautifully slow charcoal roasted organic chicken fed with non-GMO corn (Andy only eats organic). He has never seen anything more exquisite.
Andy forgets about the hours spent fanning the damn charcoal. He forgets how ridiculous he felt following a recipe requiring three and a half hours of consistent fanning to ‘keep the airflow going to ensure crispy skin’. He even forgets to set a timer.
There is only thing left to do now: carve. (Typically, Andy sets a timer for 4 min 27 seconds when carving a bird of this size.)
He pulls out his carving knife and begins a familiar routine.
He carves with precise movements. Then, he stops. Andy realises.
The chicken is still raw.