Best. Picnic. Ever.

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The United Methodist men’s annual picnic was supposed to begin at 5:30 in the park next-door to the church. And when I looked at the radar on my office computer, I could clearly see a band of thunderstorms headed our direction.

I’m a weather hound so I was looking forward to the booms of thunder as we relocated into the fellowship hall for our picnic.

At 4:25 nobody was there.

I stood out on the steps of the church and looked up at the bubbling clouds just ready to drop. Then there was Jerry, carrying a pan out into his car. “I’ve got the beans” he said. The beans were a special recipe and no United Methodist men’s cookout was complete without them. He put the heavy pan into his car and started to get in.

“Where are you going?” I asked. “It’s about to start pouring.”

“Duane thinks we have enough time,” Jerry said. “Or maybe it’s Fred that thinks we have enough time. It’s his cooker”. He got in his car “I choose to think we have enough time too” and with a smile he headed down the street to the park where I could just barely see the smoker set up at the other end.

“These guys are crazy,” I thought to myself, and I went back in the church to check the radar again. Sure enough, it seemed like the storm was right about on us. I decided to smugly wait it out at the church for when they came dashing in out of the rain. But at 5:30 on the nose nobody was at the church, and it still hadn’t rained. So reluctantly I climbed into my car and drove down to where they were gathering.

Sure enough there were a dozen men, and a couple tables set up with buns and chips and condiments, and of course, the beans.  Fred’s giant smoker was cooking up hamburgers and hotdogs.

“Yeah, I think we’ll have enough time,” somebody said, and we just stood there for a little bit chatting while Fred cooked up the meat. I went and got a bottle of water out of one of the coolers as distant thunder began to boom. I shook my head at the group. “I thought you guys were silly for setting up out here, but obviously you have to have lived in Mulvane a few more years to understand the weather.”

There was another boom, not quite so distant.

“Pastor, maybe you better pray,” someone said. Someone else said, “and make it a quick one” Just then lightning struck even a little closer so I just said “dear God, don’t kill us amen”.  The guys chuckled at that and the food was ready.

We lined up and started fixing up our hamburgers and hotdogs. The hotdogs looked especially plump and juicy, cooked perfectly. I put one on a bun with some mustard and took a bite just as a raindrop hit my arm. We ate fast, standing around the table, barely talking, just shoveling the food down.

“Did anybody bring any forks for the beams?”someone asked.  Joe said he’d run up to the church and get some.  It was beginning to sputter so several guys yelled “hurry”at the same time.

Meanwhile my teeth sank into that hot dog, and standing there in the moments right before the thunderstorm I have to tell you that was the most delicious hot dog I ever ate in my life. It made me giddy it was so good.

The wind picked up and Joe made it back with some forks. All these guys standing around the table are now shoveling these world famous beans into their mouths, as Fred’s weather radio went off. The storm was on its way and it was a severe one.

Guys began to pack up the supplies and put them in cars as the rain began to drop. Remember, I was the one who thought they were silly to be out there in the first place, but I couldn’t help myself. I made myself another hotdog and stood there in the light rain giggling to myself.

Then the wind picked up and the rain really began to fall and a dozen United Methodist men scrambled like a flock of birds picking up supplies and running for the cover of their cars. I ended up with a cutting board and a couple of oven mitts in my car–no clue whose they are.

The rain poured down and it looked like hail could be on the way, so the cars scattered.  Instead of going back to the church I just drove home, which is only a block away.

I pulled into my garage and I looked at the time on my watch:

5:49.

It had been a 19 minute picnic, and without a doubt it was the best.picnic.ever.

There’s little more to report other than that I sure like being a United Methodist Man!

Have a great week,

Mitch

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