1, 2, Barbecue

September 21, 2014


I regret to inform you that this post isn’t about cornbread, ribs, or coleslaw.

At the start of my freshman year, I was lucky enough to find an awesome group of guy friends. Like the kind that you start flirting with, but then two weeks later they’re audience to a conversation about shaving your armpits, and soon they’re giving you guy advice and acting as your wingmen. These friends are crucial, because they always tell it like it is (“No, that top isn’t too slutty” or “Yes, you need to shave your legs”), and even let you in on secret guy code – like the infamous 1, 2, barbecue.

That saying has stuck with me for four years. As defined by the friend who taught it to me: “1,2, barbecue is when you hook up with a girl once, then again another night. After the second night, you never talk to her again to make it clear that a third time won’t be in the cards.” Or, you hook up with her a third time, in which case this hook up becomes less of a random ordeal. “It’s essentially a two-night stand,” another friend added.

I was taught the terminology in reference to one of my girl friend’s first “college guy” experiences. She texted the dude after their second encounter, interested in getting to know him further, and was met with radio silence. Our guy friends informed us she had been thrown onto the grill, baby-back rib style, and that she should set her sights on someone new.

As soon as I knew how to identify the phenomenon, 1, 2, barbecue was everywhere. During my first year of owning this information, visions of numbers and saucy chicken wings floated behind my eyelids every time I made out with a boy. It was beneficial in that I wasn’t taken off guard when the texting petered out after a couple of rendezvous’. But at first, I was deeply disturbed. Could guys get any worse? I complained to my friends.

But then I started to recognize my own barbecuing – was it I who had subconsciously put the kibosh on any of my two-time hook ups? Was this less of a gender-specific anomaly than I made it out to be?

The answer is yes.

In surveying my friends about their experiences with the 1, 2, barbecue, one girl friend said it had left her feeling guilty: “I felt like I knew that this person was still interested in me, but I just couldn’t get there mentally. And so I tried to end it amicably, but I knew that there was animosity.”

Another common occurrence is the mutual barbecue. One friend recounts: “I made out with a boy on Halloween my sophomore year, and we had fun, we went back to my apartment, fooled around a little bit, didn’t sleep together, and that was it. And then what seemed like was for good measure, he asked me out on a date, and we went to Abyssinia and had a horribly awkward dinner over which we got very drunk off of wine and didn’t eat anything, because how are you supposed to eat food with your hands on a first date? And then in what seemed like doubly for good measure, he invited me to his house one night soberly, and we were hanging out, we didn’t have anything to talk about, and the fooling around was really uncomfortable. He drove me home and we never spoke after that. It seemed like a mutual, unspoken agreement that whatever we were trying to do wasn’t going to work.”

In the age of “hook up culture,” is 1,2, barbecue becoming the norm? Are we fated for endless rounds of two-night stands, in which the lovers involved are too lazy / scared / restless / confused to even consider a third tryst?

Rest assured. “I don’t think anybody sets out to 1, 2, barbecue,” a guy friend pointed out. “There’s nothing good about it. The 1, 2, barbecue is a representation of failure. A one-night stand happens for a bunch of reasons, but a 1, 2, barbecue happens if you guys agreed that you were attracted to each other – or you were blackout, and you just forgot you hooked up already – and you were like, ‘this was a good idea, we should do it again.’ And then someone came to the conclusion that it wasn’t a good idea to do it a third time.”

“I definitely barbecued a girl sophomore year and still regret it today,” one friend admits. “And there was a time junior year when I didn’t [barbecue], and I regret that too.” So, readers, proceed with caution. Don’t be afraid to utilize the 1, 2, barbecue – no one is forcing you to continue things with the guy who gently slaps your face with your own hand and tells you to “stop hitting yourself” like a child – but don’t shy away from a situation that could blossom into something beautiful.

image via Wendy Ginsberg

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