Entry into Slate Magazine’s “Significant Objects” writing contest

Today the results came in for the first writing contest I’ve ever entered. I didn’t win or even get an honorable mention by placing in the top twelve of the more than 600 writers who entered. I’m more than a little bit disappointed. It would have been one of my life’s greatest moments if I’d made a good showing my first time out. Hey, but at least I enjoyed reading the winner’s entry; having a good, solid, winner makes losing easier to take.

The contest was Slate Magazine’s “Significant Objects” writing contest where they gave us a photo of an object (below) and we had to invent a story about why the object had meaning to us.

Well, if I can’t win, the least I can do is share my entry on my blog so my readers can at least get a kick out of it.

Here’s what I submitted, following the photo they gave us to work from:

BBQ Sauce Jar from Slate Magazine Contest

“Ha! He even shaved with the stuff!” Uncle Mick clapped me on the back so hard he nearly spilled his drink. “Remember? Just to make your momma laugh, he schlathered it all over his face and shaved with it.”

He meant to say “lathered”, but my uncle was drunk.

It was my father’s funeral and we all were taking it hard and dealing with it in our own ways. I ignored my uncle and focused on my memories.

My father was known as “The BBQ King of south Fox Hollow”. (There was also a “BBQ King of north Fox Hollow” but people liked my father’s cooking better.) He dedicated his life to his BBQ restaurant. He spent all of his time there and we all went there for all our meals.

My dad was a freakin’ genius when it came to BBQ. And like most geniuses, my dad was a bit eccentric, and yes, he once shaved with BBQ sauce solely for my mother’s entertainment. He was funny that way – anything to please his family. Shortly after that, as a gag gift, Uncle Mick brought my dad this jar that said “BAR-B-Q SAUCE” on the front and had a brush under the lid. He cut down a bar of shaving soap to fit into the bottom. My dad loved lathering up with the kit so much that he used it every time he shaved, twice a week.

I remember while growing up, I’d stop by the restaurant before and after school every day. Having a king for a dad had its perks. My dad packed the best lunches. While all the other kids sat with their PB&J or bologna sandwiches, I was the only kid at school enjoying BBQ ribs and pork shoulder.

I had my first heart attack at 37. My father’s third killed him. They found him on the floor in his kitchen with a bowl of his famous BBQ sauce overturned on his face.

At first, the police thought they had a murder scene. But what at first looked like blood splatter on the walls turned out to be just BBQ sauce. I imagined him there, clutching his chest with one hand and flailing with a BBQ sauce laden brush in the other. His heart and that brush – to him they were inseparable.

And speaking of inseparable, it turns out that the rigor had set in such a way that it was too difficult to pry the basting brush from his hand. We decided to just bury him with it.

Oh, how he loved his BBQ sauce recipe and that restaurant.

After he died, we first thought we’d keep the restaurant open in his honor. But then we burned it down for the insurance money.

My father was the best BBQ chef who ever lived, and now all I have is his shaving jar and my memories of his unique personality and passion for entertaining and feeding all of us.


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