Thursday, March 20, 2008

Buried treasure

So, back when I was in college, I wrote a column for the school paper. I don't think it ever ran, but I did mail it to certain family members.

When we removed our belo9ngings from our attic, our sole possessions after Katrina included a random box that held stuff from college. In it were random, useless things, as well as my college diploma, which I thought I'd lost. My buried treasure was this column. The event took place in either late August 1998 or early September 1998. It's pretty funny based on the fact that it is a celebration of meat, yet I won't eat many varieties of meat these days. Remember, this was early in my college career, so bear with me as you read this occasionally cringe-inducing masterpiece.

Meat Fest

It all started innocently enough. My relatives from Philadelphia were coming in town for a few days, and to celebrate, we would all go across the lake to another set of relatives' house.

The visitors from Philly were my uncle Mike, my aunt Jean, and my two cousins, Crissy, 11, and Steffi, 7.

In addition to this bunch were my parents and 14-year-old brother, Geoff, my aunt Mimi and uncle Lance, Granny, uncle Dennis, his daughter Hayley, his girlfriend Kim, my uncle Dave, my aunt Judy, their kids Lauren and Colleen, my aunt Annie, my uncle Ralph, and their adult children Erin and Ralph, and me.

The main attraction of the day was a crab boil. Harmless enough, right?


The day started off as planned: crabs. Delicious boiled crabs. Dave has a gift for boiling seafood.

Colleen is allergic to shellfish, so hot dogs and hamburgers were on hand. Steffi has a Yankee tongue, so she of course did not want any part of the crabs. Instead, she wrinkled her dainty little nose and stared at them like they were from the planet Zoltar.

Judy threw a few hot dogs on the grill for the girls. When she went to take them inside to fix them, one rolled off the plate and splattered into the dirt.

That reminds me: Do you know what happens to hot dogs if you leave them out in the sun for several hours?

They turn green. Limp and green.

Just thought you'd like to know.

So anyway, Lance decided that he wanted some sausage. Uncle Ralph, as opposed to young Ralph, announced that he had gotten some sausage from a friend. He called it "Special sausage."

The plate of sausage was passed around. I decided not to partake in the consumption of it since it had been labeled "special." He went on to elaborate that the sausage could only be obtained through friends.

Any guesses on what it was?

Oh, come on. This is South Louisiana.

Yup. You guessed it: venison. Deer sausage.

After consuming nearly all of the crabs, two sacks worth, along with some various other things, like venison, hot dogs, and munchie-type things, they seemed to slow down. It was just a breather, though.

Not long after the remains were disposed of, they brought out a fruit tray and two cakes. A chocolate cake congratulating Mike on his recent promotion to President and COO of Rohm-Haas Chemicals and a "wedding cake" for Annie's birthday.

By this point in time, my brother got bored and got out the video camera. Some of the exciting footage he captured included a turtle eating a large chunk of cantaloupe and Erin trying to feed Young Ralph a piece of cake.

I'm not sure which was more humorous. The turtle had a nice aesthetic quality with the green leaves, green turtle, and orange fruit. Watching his little neck shoot out of his shell as he bit into the fleshy fruit, which kept inching away from him, amused Geoff for a long time. The section with the turtle must be almost 3 minutes long.

Erin feeding Young Ralph is amusing. He did not want to eat it. The scene has Erin coaxing him whilst chanting "Eat it! Eat it! Eat it!" He kept moving his head away from her, and finally the piece of cake hit his mouth, fell off the fork, and bounced off his chest.

Did I mention they are 27 and 22?

We soon grew bored of shouting "Eat it! Eat it!" at each other, so the four of us journeyed inside to watch "Daria."

Erin made an important observation at this point: The men were all standing around the meat and the fire, standing at that safe "man-distance." The women were sitting in a circle at "woman distances," all chatting away.

The subject of our discussion, though, was the men standing around the fire.

"Look at them," Erin said. "That must be some primitive caveman instinct that has been carried through evolution. They feel a need to stand around the kill and make sure it cooks correctly."

That also brought us to our next observation: They were cooking again!

Hamburgers, hot dogs, and ribs, oh my!

This prompted Erin to christen the day as a "Meat Marathon." This evolved into "Meatapalooza," "Meat Festival," and, finally, "Meat Fest."

We discovered that the jambalaya present had turkey sausage in it.

"Hey, do you realize that we have met from every meat genre present?" asked Young Ralph. "Pork, venison, beef, seafood, poultry..."

We went on like that for at least an hour. By that time, it was time to eat. Judy brought out a (ready for some irony?) Sugar-Buster's pasta salad. Guess what was one of the ingredients?


Then Dave came inside to inform us that, should we want them, the rest of the crabs were being served, so hurry up and get outside!

We picked at the food for a while. Only picked, because we were waiting for the ribs to cook.

In the meantime, I picked up the video camera and went outside. By this point in time, the mosquitoes were having a "Meat Fest" of their own, with my family as their main course. But did this stop them? No.

I interviewed several people as to what their thoughts were on "Meat Fest '98." Everyone seemed to enjoy it. My mom added that it should become an annual event, and whipped out her personal calendar to write it in the advanced planning section.

I wandered over to the table where they were devouring the rest of the crabs, and Erin suggested making a documentary of how to eat crabs.

She just got her master's in speech pathology, and she had to dissect some cadavers in school. She told us that her cadaver had a Band-Aid on, and she couldn't help but think that that was an absurd and futile point. I jokingly called her crab procedural a "Crab autopsy." She liked the idea and crowned herself "Dana Scully" after the FBI agent on "The X-Files."

She thoroughly enjoyed this dissection. She said, "It felt just like old times."

Young Ralph, who is pursuing a degree in physical therapy, also had to dissect some cadavers for school. "It's just meat!" he said. "That's what we used to say in class. 'It's just meat.'"

Shortly after the crab autopsy, the ribs were ready. We were waiting for them inside, and the leftover hamburgers were sitting on a plate glistening in the light. "Mmmmmmm....glistening meat. Ahhhhhhh...." said Erin in an impression of Homer Simpson.

The ribs were finally ready, and we pounced on them like lions circling a dead zebra. (Hmmmm...there's an interesting meat that was not served.)

Erin stuck out her thumb and said, "Look, you know you're enjoying it a little too much when you get meat under your fingernail."

A moth was circling the table bothering everyone. Young Ralph tried to smash it when it landed in the bread basket. All he succeeded in doing was smashing some buns. The moth landed by me, so I picked up a hamburger bun, separated it, and smashed that sucker between the slices.

This grossed out my littler cousins. Geoff said, "Oooh, moth burgers! More meat!"

I just grinned at them and asked, "Want some flies with that?" (Grooooooaaaannnnn)

Somewhere in there, we started joking about making Meat Fest '98 T-shirts and selling them. Then we turned serious. That wasn't such a bad idea. That night, Geoff immediately got on the computer and designed a shirt. I think we may actually do it.

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