Members of the Congregation of Perpetual Outrage now suggest that having a barbecue in a park is anti-social behavior. Some people don’t like the smell of searing flesh, while others object to the smoke. So for some of these folks, even grilling veggies is an anti-social annoyance.
It’s an interesting conundrum; on the one hand, having a house with a yard and a grill is bad, because they want you to live in stacked lab-rat cages. Yet on the other hand, if you live in lab-rat bunkers, you have no place to barbecue unless you adjourn to a nearby park. And now that, too, is being condemned by the Pertutually Outraged:
You might recognise the scene on a large patch of public grassland. The odour of inexpertly-charred meat. The babble of drunk people congregating. The spectacle of adults in shorts, arms folded, cheeks flushed with indignation, shouting at each other.
Barbecues are a precarious enough social occasion when they occur in the privacy of a back garden, with smoke and chatter billowing across fences, potentially inciting the ire of neighbours.
In communal spaces like parks – where one ratepayer’s carefree al fresco culinary get-together is another’s smoke-belching, grass-scorching, noisy, litter-strewn, anti-social nuisance – the capacity for confrontation and awkwardness is even greater.
Around the world this summer, civic leaders are grappling with a shared dilemma. In the New York borough of Brooklyn, there are calls to ban grilling in Prospect Park in an effort to rid it of “toxic fumes”.
Give me a few burritos, and I’ll introduce those Brooklyn hipsters to some real toxic fumes. I don’t even need a grill!