The time of Grocery Store Corn is upon us. It's warm and bright and the days are getting longer, so that means standing outside over a propane-powered flame, prodding hunks of trimmed cow and roasting corn.

Unless the propane tank is empty. Note: The tank is never really empty. It just doesn't have enough oomph to sear the Bossie hunk you threw on the grill. Last Sunday I turned on the burners, and the flame was like chin hair on a 14-year-old boy.

Empty? It's a judgment call. Many, many years ago I took an empty tank to the hardware store to be exchanged for a pressurized bomb of death gas, and the clerk frowned when he picked it up:

"You've still got some in there," he announced.

It was humiliating. A man ought to know these things. You should be able to pick up the canister and say, "Hmm. Still a little gas. Three, maybe four burgers worth," like you're the culturally insensitive Tonto of Propane.

So I took the canister to the store and said, "I don't mean to sound like the culturally insensitive Tonto of Propane, but ... "

"We're out," the clerk said. "Just sold the last one."

I resisted the urge to reply: "Did you read the Economist's piece on America's burgeoning liquid-natural-gas boom? How can you be out if the Economist says it's burgeoning?"

Down the street was another place that swapped out propane tanks for $4 more, and what do you know: Their rack burgeoned with gas. Odd how that works.

"The SA down the street sells it for $4 cheaper," I said, perhaps expecting the clerk to bolt upright and offer to honor all competitive prices, but instead he leaned into the microphone and said, "Go ahead on 4." As the person who was on 4 went ahead, he looked at me and said, "I'm sorry, what did you say?"

I shrugged, took the tank home and lugged it to the grill with one hand because I am a man and the basic definition of manhood is one-handing the propane tank. Hooked it up and lit it up, factoring in disaster: Whenever you deal with propane, a small voice in the back of your head hears a news account that includes the phrase "charred portions of his scalp were found in the branches several blocks away."

Foomph! It lit. Time to boil the corn — but hold on. I just read a story about how the farmers are late with the corn because of the rain. Too much, not enough, it's always something with these guys. But it's May. How can there be fresh corn now?

Let me google Cargill 3-D Cellulose Printer and I'll get back to you.