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Anticipating my first cookout - Jason Smith

I've always been hesitant to try new things. Whenever I attempt something I've never done before, I'm usually self-conscious and unsure of my abilities.

In some cases, this mindset has been so paralyzing that I have never mastered certain tasks, that are commonplace for others my age.

I won't bother to give examples of this, in order to avoid complete embarrassment. There's a point I'm trying to get to, anyway.

In just a few days, my wife and I will be having people over for what I hope will be the first of many cookouts at our house. She bought me a grill as an early anniversary present -- our anniversary isn't until late May, but the grill was on sale -- and I have been dying to use it.

There's just one problem. I can't cook.

Actually, the more accurate statement would be that I don't cook, except for the occasional macaroni-and-cheese dish.

I've never used a grill in my life, and I have no idea what I'm getting myself into by hosting this occasion. Still, I'm so excited, I can barely stand it.

My wife has, in our nearly four years of marriage, been able to convince me on a very sporadic basis to try my hand at cooking. While the task has never ended badly, it's something I've just never felt comfortable doing, and the idea of doing anything with the grill terrifies me.

I will probably lean heavily on my wife's expertise that day, as she is much better at using a grill.

Yet, when the prospect of hosting a cookout came up, I jumped all over it. For me, it wasn't about the hamburgers and hot dogs we will likely have for our guests, but about the people I will be able to share my home with.

There are the friends from high school, who I haven't seen in a few years, who will be coming to the cookout. I'll get to see people I interact with for work on a regular basis, in a more relaxed setting, and welcome them to my home.

I'll get to introduce some of those people for the first time, to each other, to my wife and to my family.

Everyone I've talked to, who has confirmed they are coming, seems really excited about our little get-together.

I'm sure I will have my camera and my video recorder handy, so I can preserve those moments to enjoy for years to come.

For me, this is why I am excited about the cookout. I want to share the blessings of my life with those around me, and I want them to know that they, too, are among those blessings.

I just hope they feel blessed after they eat my first batch of burgers. Suddenly, I'm wondering if I should apologize to them -- in advance.

Then again, I'm sure they'll understand. After all, they're family to me.

Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.