You decided to go away to nature this weekend because nature, you decide, will refresh you. So you pack up your car with all of your little things—the hammock, the tent, the sleeping pads, the cooler, the matches, the dog—and you drive away from the city and into the wilderness. Maybe you choose a state park, or maybe you are braver than that and you just find a nice stream somewhere. You spend Friday evening setting up your tent and snapping open a beer or two while you feed the fire. Maybe you even tell a few stories to your travel buddies. The stars are bright, in that way so you can see them between the trees, and you hear other people laughing every once in a while in the distance, but mainly it is still.
But then imagine, during all of this tranquility, you see something moving in the trees. A deer? It’s probably a deer. You add another log to the fire. But there’s still something moving nearby. Something big. You point your flashlight toward the trees and see nothing, so you scooch closer to your friend. And just then, from the trees they emerge: 7 feet tall, wearing hiking boots, and a big jersey. Wait… is that… a hockey helmet? Are they covered in orange fur? Their eyes are moving in two different directions. Is that… could it be… Gritty?
“Why are you here?” you ask Gritty.
“Wow,” you say. “Same.”
“Same!” you yell. Gritty’s eyes roll around, but they are still smiling. They are always smiling. They are gesturing. It means something. “Sure,” your friend says. “You can set up your tent over here.”
But it’s not just a tent. Gritty has two blow up Gritty figurines. That’s a little creepy, but OK, I guess. You watch as Gritty makes a fire.
“Wow, Gritty! Were you a scout?” you ask as his fire roars, but Gritty can’t hear you. Gritty is pumping their fists, dancing around the fire. Gritty is demanding CAMPFIRE SONGS.
You don’t know this song, but look at how happy all the Grittys look. So happy. You are just getting the rhythm of the song when they trot away. Sure, the secondary Grittys can’t move and are just standing there not singing, but they have big smiles too!
“My name’s not nature,” you tell at Gritty, but Gritty doesn’t listen.
“I like Gritty,” your friend says, and you do too. The energy emanating from the tent is impeccable. You and your friend add another log to Gritty’s fire. It makes a loud noise when it falls. “Shhh,” your friend says. But you aren’t quiet for long. You’re drinking. It’s the weekend. You’re laughing so loudly when you see Gritty’s tent begin to flail.
The top panel of Gritty’s door unzips with a whir. Through the mesh you can see those two big saucer plate eyes spinning in different directions. You wave, but the eyes look frantically off to the side. Your friend says, “Are you okay, Gritty?”
But before you can hear an answer, the zipper flies open and Gritty is sprinting past you, orange hair blowing in the breeze, racing away.
“Do you think Gritty’s OK?” your friend asks as you climb into your sleeping bags an hour later.
“I’m sure Gritty is fine,” you say.
But Gritty isn’t there when you wake up.
As you are cooking pancakes on the electric stove, you see a flash of orange behind a tree, and there’s Gritty, moseying back toward the campsite.
“What happened to your clothes?” you start to say, but Gritty is thrusting a camera into your hands and trotting toward the tent. Now the jersey is gone. Gritty has somehow obtained a loin cloth, lost the jersey, and managed to keep the helmet and boots. Gritty props a foot up on the camp chair and looks at you triumphantly. You take a photo.
You offer the real Gritty some of your pancakes. The inflatable Grittys don’t eat at all. Sad. But Real Gritty didn’t sleep all night, and you have plenty of food to share, you reason. But Real Gritty shakes their head, returns to the chair, and pulls from the tent a machete. Hmmm. That’s scary.
Gritty sits and sharpens a stick into a spear. Thank god you are keeping an eye on them because Gritty throws the spear at you! “Hey!” you yell, but Gritty gathers the spear, satisfied, and runs to the creek where the spear flies into the river. There are no fish in the river, but Gritty is holding the spear still, so you stay quiet.
Gritty is upset. It’s not even 1 p.m. and the tent is coming down. The volleyball painted like Wilson is being thrown. Gritty is packing.
As Gritty runs away, you yell, “My name’s not nature!” I guess camping wasn’t for him, after all.