Private: Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy
Okay, so I’m totally not one to brag about my family or anything but this past weekend was too good to be true. I had a riot. Let me start off by saying it wasn’t exactly my ideal way to spend my weekend, either. I mean, I’m the last person to take some time off but after my hard fought triple threat victory, I thought to myself, screw it and decided to indulge a bit. Even The Nuzzle Lord needs a vacation and gosh golly did I ever get one. It didn’t start that way though. This is my story.
It was the annual Gladhappy Family Spring Spectacular. The second of our four quarterly get-togethers and let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint. I had to make up for lost time as I failed to attend the vaunted Gladhappy Super Happy Fun Time Winter Festival due to illness. I heard Uncle Glenn-Sven won the gold medal in blind fractions just like he does every year. That man is a math savant, but that’s neither here nor there. The focus was on the spring gathering this past weekend and yes, precious Aunt Edna-Agatha brought her world famous pickled yams. Nothing makes your taste buds scream like pickled yams. Delish.
Anyways, we all congregated at the Sacramento campgrounds, you know, outdoors because of the beautiful weather. This year’s spring gathering had the theme of a backyard barbecue. Dear sweet tiny baby snuggle nuzzle, did we have ourselves a barn burner. There were sausages, dogs and patties galore. Virtually every meat under the sun touched a Gladhappy grill during the excursion. Everything was so delish too. Heck, I had never seen my cousin-in-law Vickie down so many flaming red hots in one sitting. I think she established a new personal record and I was quite impressed with her throat work.
Ultimately, I found it all quite amusing. For me, my go-to was one thing and one thing only.
I enjoyed me a good old fashioned chargrilled flame burger.
Mmmm nothing better than that lip smacking, juicy, mouthwatering slab of meat cooked to perfection on my dad’s Napoleon Crossfire Express 7200. That thing could flambé the thickest piece of salmon into vapors in no time. I wasn’t even allowed to touch it when he first bought it and understandably so. A grill master has their right to their tools and my father was no exception. I just felt lucky enough to insert the tasty meat he cooked directly into my mouth. I can still taste it. Heck, I can still smell it. Smoky bliss.
My tongue bartered with each morsel of meat as my teeth mowed down on each bite. Naturally, the walls of my mouth gently nuzzled the succulent nutrients I was introducing into my body. Clearly, if you can’t tell by now, the food was the highlight of the spring fling. I mean, it usually is. Makes sense too, seeing how most of the east coast Gladhappy clan remain locked up all winter long, pining at the chance to get out and socialize once the first thaw hits. It’s in part why I adore living in Sacramento so much but obviously with a family steeped in so much tradition, it only makes sense we have representatives far and wide, across many lands. Anyways, I’m getting off track. Back to the meat.
There was no need for a fever dream here because I had the time of my life eating burgs. Good old fashioned natural, grass fed beef was my drug which was more than good enough. My dad even let me roast some chestnuts which was a nice bonding experience, not that I needed any more of that with my beloved pops. He’s a good man at heart and I only understand now why he’d never let me touch the barbecue as a kid growing up. So yeah, chestnuts roasted over an open fire and they were delicious too. Not quite on the same level of burgs but I did need a palate cleanser. Needless to say but we had it all.
We ate too much. We played too many games. We laughed too hard.
I had to. I needed it. The escape was nice because I knew what was at the end of the barrel staring back at me. A date with the number three ranked wrestler in all of PRIME. So I lived it up beforehand, not out of fear but because this is what I’ve finally been working towards. I deserved this just as much as I deserved Auntie Karen-Lee’s custard surprise. Granted, my opponent is no Brandon Youngblood and yes, I haven’t forgotten and no, I won’t let it go anytime soon. A Gladhappy never forgets. We might be easily pushed around but eventually we’ll find out what car you drive and slash your tires in the most passive aggressive way possible.
Anyways, yeah okay, I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t about to face the man I wanted to nuzzle up next to in the ring worse than sharing a one person sleeping bag with my same aged cousin Oliver-Toby-Pierce, the only Gladhappy with three first names mind you, but what I had in front of me was indeed an opportunity. Quite the opportunity nonetheless.
I felt like it was fate at that point.
There I was, eating my flame burgers, pondering how to take out my greatest enemy yet and then it hit me. I should probably bite the shit out of him. Yeah, seemed like a good call at the time. Sure, he probably wouldn’t taste as good as a flame charred burger but I was doing my best to draw comparisons. I wondered if he knew his parents’ intentions on naming him after a divine burger.
But it was okay. I was okay with it.
It’s always okay because The Nuzzle Lord is omnipresent. I made a promise to myself and by proxy, to FLAMBERGE, that I would be the soft sesame seed buns to his burger meat any day of the week. I’d gladly wrap my arms around that muscular body of his in an adoring nuzzle before slamming him hard to the canvas.
You see, the delicious burger I held in my hands might as well have been our two bodies, intertwined in some sort of sick and twisted ketchup entanglement. Heck, I PUT MAYONNAISE ON MY BURGERS AND I’M LOUD AND PROUD ABOUT IT. DON’T FORGET THE WHITE STUFF!
It doesn’t matter though. Nothing about what we do matters if it feels right and my weekend felt more than right. It felt like destiny. I hope you felt it too. Deep, DEEP down in your loins.
FLAMBERGE, I made a pinky promise with myself that night, as I laid my beautiful head full of hair down on my makeshift pillow and stared at my sleeping cousin from across the way.
I said, “At Revival, FLAMBERGE and I are going to make the dirtiest flame burger known to man. Watch and see.”
Watch and see.
It was the next morning and little did I know but this day would become the struggle. Everyone, including Grandma Gladhappy, were getting ready for the annual fishoff. Tackle boxes, lures and tilley hats was all that could be seen for as far as the eye could see. I even busted out my beige waders because I had planned to do some stream runs and not just stay in the boat like a bump on the log that Uncle Larry-Sparticus usually was.
This time, I got teamed up with my cousin from the lower east coast, Shirley-Anne and we got assigned the tin boat of all watercrafts. So I made the best out of a disadvantaged situation. I wasn’t feeling like going for gold after all. Sport fishing wasn’t my event to begin with. More or less, I enjoyed the solace of being out in Sacramento’s lush nature backdrop, only listening to the sounds of water flow over rockbeds.
Then there was the fact that Shirley-Anne wasn’t much of a talker, what with her being from Virginia and all. There was that clear divide in the Gladhappy family of east coast versus west coast but I mean, we still all got along swimmingly. Plus, I mean, it was Shirley-Anne we’re talking about here. I basically had the day to myself and my thoughts.
In the end, it might not have turned out to be that great of a thing.
I hooked many fishes throughout the competition. Like, fierce. I wrangled them on my rod HARD. Shirley-Anne was impressed, naturally. Of course, she stayed in the boat while I traversed shallow waters in my beloved waders. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good time. HOWEVER, each time I caught a fish, all I could think of was flame grilled meat. My mind kept revisiting that tantalizing option over and over again. Meat over fish. Meat over fish. The comparison wasn’t even fair.
I couldn’t get it out of my head. Flame meets grill meets raw meat. The searing. It’s the perfect trifecta. Kinda like me, FLAMBERGE and a referee in a wrestling ring. Perfection or darn near close enough to it. I kept snapping back to reality. I tried to focus on positioning my rod in the most seductive way possible, so I could snatch up the most amount of fish but it eventually became too much. The smell of fish became too offputting. The sight of Shirley-Anne almost made me hurl. I think the fish began to sense my urgency and decided not to nibble on the end of my hook anymore.
“Damn!” Was the word of the day that I shouted profusely. Yes, Shirley-Anne tried to calm my unsettled nerves with words of encouragement. Heck, she even made me a fresh tuna sandwich from right inside the boat she was floating in! It just didn’t help me focus. Instead, I was consumed with a desire to consume a big old hunk of meat. The sea just wasn’t meant for me. Not on the weekend, anyways.
It was nearing the end of the competition, as I stood there, in shin high waters, wallowing in my misery. I had released any fish I had caught up to that point and even then, I knew even my best catch was not nearly good enough for submission.
The final horn back at camp blew and Shirley-Anne and I made the lonesome trek back. She apologized for not being good at fishing more times than I could recount. I just brushed it off. It meant nothing to me after all. Once back at camp, we all sat around a log fire and rejoiced about the day’s activities. The winner of the Gladhappy Family Fishoff was none other than second cousin, Huck-Terwilliger. It was his second fishoff title in four tries. Usually one of the fishing enthusiast uncles wins, but the hands of time were slowly ensuring someone else came up to take the mantle of best Gladhappy fisher of the land.
It was the afterparty and it was finally my turn to sit by the fire like a bump on a log. Shirley-Anne was off with her husband Dustin-Gilligan doing their thing. The night sky had taken over and the stars were out in full force. I was captivated by the fire. The flames danced, teasing me to come roast raw meat over them. I tried many times to shake my head clear of those thoughts but each time they came back with even more force.
I had to get me some. So I did. I marched over to the picnic table of food supplies and like a zombie possessed, I began slaying the dirty burgs. It got to the point where I grabbed a stack of frozen patties and went wild on them over the campfire. I distinctly remember cackling to the night heavens. Had I gone mad? I think I didn’t even remove the paper divider between patties! I CONSUMED IT ALL. Bun, no bun, half bun, croissant, you name it, I used it as a burger pairing and had a time of it.
Everyone was laughing. Everyone was frolicking.
I ate burgers.
The next morning was a rough one. I remember waking up on the ground. I didn’t even make it back to my tent for the night. My neck hurt from a lack of pillow support and I was surrounded by the trash of my misfit hooligan family members party the night before. I was hung over. Burger drunk, if you will. The ringing in my ear wouldn’t even stop.
All of a sudden I heard a whistle. A loud one.
It took me a moment but I finally realized it was the dawn of a new day and not just any day. The traditional Gladhappy Spring Games were upon us and everyone knew what the most iconic event out of the entire day was. The egg walk. One by one, I witnessed family members exit their tents and sleeping holes, stretching for the bright blue sky. Some were more eager than others to get the egg walk going. I just needed a drink of water to balance the amount of grease and meat I had consumed the night before in order to truly wake up.
It felt like the blink of an eye and I was standing on the white chalk starting line in front of a flat field of green grass. I got into an athletic stance and eyed the egg holding station no more than one hundred yards from my feet. The Gladhappy egg walk was a relay race unlike no other. I had to run down the field, grab my egg, balance it on a silver spoon and hand it off to the next person on my team so they could complete the circuit.
This was no ordinary egg, though. It was a Gladhappy staple. They were NIBBLE eggs! These were specially farmed eggs that came from Uncle Thistle-Peter’s farm! They were the tastiest when cracked open onto an iron skillet, hence why they gained the nickname of nibble eggs within the family.
So off I went, soaring towards my nibble egg. I picked it up and headed back towards my teammate. On my way back, I was engaged in an intense stare towards my nibble egg. I was handling it with care when suddenly, visuals of cracking one open over a fully cooked flame burger danced in my head. An egg like that can play a key role in creating the most mouthwatering burger around whether it’s cracked on top of it or used as part of a deep frying batter concoction. It’s all good as long as it tastes good going down your gullet.
Then I kept thinking about it! Just a nibble. It was all I needed at the moment. Sinking my teeth through crispy, fresh lettuce. Rubbing my tongue up against a slice of sharp, melted cheese. Allowing my lips to get soaked in sweet and sour relish! Who can forget to add the sauerkraut? Yes, it belongs on more than just wieners, it belongs on your burgs too.
I had it.
I chucked my nibble egg as far as I could and I sprinted back towards camp where, I kid you not, I ate the remaining supply of burgers.
It was glorious. I had never slayed so much food in my entire life.
I sat there with a round tummy and condiments dripping down my chin as eventually, one by one, the Gladhappy clan made their way back to camp from the egg walk one final time to pack up and head home. Each facial expression I received was more complex than the last as finally, my closest cousin, Shelby-Penelope sauntered by, both disgusted and impressed. She handed me a wet wipe and watched me clean away the dried ketchup and mustard from the corners of my mouth.
She asked me if it was worth it and if I had any idea that I would go down in family history as the piggy who ate all the burgers that year.
I simply glanced up at her and smiled while I glistened in the sun with fully blown meat sweats.
“Flame burger,” was the only thing I could mutter.
That was my weekend.
What did you do with yours?