This head beam lights up dark for die-hard grillers

January 26, 2000|By Rob Kasper

I THOUGHT I owned every barbecue gizmo a man could want. But then, just in time for Super Bowl burn-offs, Bob Capallo and Richard D. Lynch, two local die-hard grillers, told me about a light you can strap on your forehead.

After hearing these two guys testify about the benefits of illuminating your forehead, I ran out to one of those mega hardware stores, Home Depot on Joppa Road, and found the $10 light in the flashlight display. It has changed my night life.

It is, as Capallo and Lynch warned me during telephone interviews, a geeky looking get-up.

Basically, the Eveready Sports Gear Headband Light is a rubber headband connected to a squarish yellow battery pack that powers a "bright krypton bulb."

Some folks may ask why a man would want to strap a light on his forehead. I will give you a clue. It is easier than holding a flashlight in your teeth, or wrapping a SnakeLight around your neck.

In other words, when your noggin is glowing, you can see in the dark. This comes in handy on winter nights when you are standing outside staring at your barbecue cooker and wondering if that hunk of meat, chicken or fish is done yet.

Moreover, when you grill throughout the year like Capallo and Lynch, neither snow, nor rain, nor dark of night can keep you from your cooker. Especially the dark of night. This Sunday night, for instance, as Capallo whips up "chili du jour" on his grill for the annual Super Bowl party at his Carney home, his forehead will be brilliant. He told me that ever since last April when he first strapped on the light, he never grills at night without it.

The device throws a powerful beam of light wherever you point your head, Capallo said, giving you a clear view, for example, of how "done" a steak is. It also keeps your hands free to flip the meat, put out a fire or make any other adjustments to supper that outdoor cookery sometimes requires.

"It works much better than holding a flashlight in your teeth," Capallo said, referring to his former nocturnal method of seeing what he was grilling.

The device is especially helpful in the winter, when the sun sets early and the grill beckons. According to a recently released Weber Grill Watch Survey, 49 percent of American households that own a grill fire it up in the winter. However, the folks involved with the Weber survey said they have no idea how many winter grillers cook while lights are strapped to their foreheads.

Capallo said he also found himself lighting up the device late on some summer nights. "Sometimes, happy hour got extended, and we just didn't get around to firing up the grill until it was dark," he said.

Capallo grew so fond of the light on his forehead that he gave one as a Christmas present to Lynch, his friend and fellow grilling zealot.

Lynch is grateful. He told me that until the light came into his life, he had to rely on the porch light of his Harford County home for barbecue illumination. Because this was not the brightest porch light on the block, the food cooking on the grill sometimes suffered at night, he said.

More than once, he pulled a piece of meat off the fire, he said, shut down the grill and walked inside only to discover the meat that looked tantalizingly brown under the porch light appeared blood red under the kitchen lights.

Now that he can point a bright beacon of light at what he is cooking, his grilling technique has improved, Lynch said. "No more overdone meat, no more bloody- rare surprises," he said.

There are drawbacks to strapping a light on your head, both men told me, the main one being what it does to your appearance.

"It leaves a dent in your forehead," Capallo said.

"It certainly doesn't do anything for your hairstyle," Lynch added.

But both men also warned me that wearing the light could be habit-forming. They told me that when they strap the light on, they often have a hard time taking it off.

"I like to wear it during dinner," Capallo said, adding that this tended to annoy his wife, Valerie, as well as any guests who sit across the table from him.

Lynch admitted that he wore his forehead light during a recent New Year's Eve party he and his wife, Denise, gave at their Forest Hill home. Early in the evening, Lynch told partygoers that the device on his head was a precaution against a possible power failure.

"I put the thing on just in case the lights went out at midnight," he said.

But when the new year arrived and the power didn't fail, Lynch didn't take his forehead light off. Instead he snapped the light on and beamed it at partygoers, who, in the spirit of celebration, had picked up a microphone and were belting out songs. It made a great spotlight, he said.

Sure enough, as soon as I got my new light out of the package and strapped it on my forehead, I felt charged up. I turned it on and prowled around the house, shining its beacon in dark basement corners, down shadowy stairways and later that night into the black orb known as my barbecue cooker, where a hamburger sizzled on the grill.

Before the burger had been cooking in darkness, but now it was bathed in brilliance, brilliance that was coming straight from my forehead.

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