Oh, no one's going to read this. Everyone's gone. The entire town emptied out, right? So you'd guess from the obligatory gas prices stories: "Gas prices incrementally different as Minnesotans hit the road." Where are they going? No idea. It's apparently an irresistible imperative. It's Monday! Kids, get in the car! Where are we going, Dad? I don't know! But I want to beat the traffic! Hours later they're in Bemidji, wondering if they should have bought a cabin first. Keep your eyes out for sale signs. Hon, you bring the checkbook?

No doubt some are heading up or even sideways to the cabin, but I'd guess most of us are staying right here for Decoration Day, and will grill. That's the second imperative. Burn meat. I'm the worst possible griller; can't make a brat without making a charcoal rod that looks like black sidewalk chalk. Might as well serve the briquettes and cut to the chase -- except that I switched to propane, which means every Memorial Day begins with the terrifying realization that the tank might be empty. So you pick it up to test. A man should know how much propane is left by picking up the tank, just as a frontier scout could tell how many horses passed by, and when. Hmmm. Four, maybe five burgers. Garlic toast. Pork still pink in middle.

But the last time I took a tank to the store, rolling around in the trunk like a severed head, the clerk said I had plenty left, couldn't I tell? Hot flush of shame/flashback to being picked last in gym class for basketball. I said I wanted a new tank anyway. He said I must be planning to cook about a hundred hamburgers, and I said, Yes, that's exactly what I am planning and I don't care about your stupid team anyway. I'm still on that tank. When I go back to the store I'm going to dribble it and pass it to the clerk: Heads up.

Third imperative: Put up the flag. Remember. At the end of the day, fold it carefully and put it back.

Did I say third? I meant first, of course. Have a fine day. Summer's here.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858