The Brain Freeze Tradition: A Raspberry Family Story

Submitted into Contest #98 in response to: Write about a family with a long-standing tradition, whose members all have conflicting origin stories for it.... view prompt


Contemporary Teens & Young Adult Fantasy

Raspberry House was buzzing with activity as everyone prepared for the first day of summer celebrations. Stella, along with a half dozen other family members were on ice cream making duty in the kitchen.

A duty which Stella was already late for.

“Stella!” Little Dorian barreled towards her. She caught him up in her arms. “Have you seen Aunt Raz? She was supposed to be back this morning but she’s not back and we can’t do the brain freezing contest without her!”

“Hey, calm down buddy. Aunt Raz will be back. She hasn’t missed a contest yet.”

Dorian’s eyebrows scrunched up in deep thought. “She is the reigning champion.”

“And has been for over fifty years.”

“Technically longer than that. We’ve only been keeping official track for the last fifty years.” Chandra said, coming towards them. “Mrs. Grant sent me to find you.”

Stella winced. Busted. She sat Dorian back on the ground. “Aunt Raz will be here.” She reiterated.

He nodded. “Thanks Stella.” Dorian ran off.

Stella and Chandra started off for the kitchen. “You know, I’ve always wondered why we even have the brain freeze contest. Who even came up with that idea?” Chandra said.

Stella frowned. “I’ve never thought about it. I mean, it’s just what we do right?”

“Yeah. But it had to start somehow. Who thought having an ice cream eating contest and the first one to get a brain freeze wins was a good idea?”

“I know the answer to that.” Duke grinned at them over a stack of periwinkle towels as he joined them. “Aunt Raz came up with it to root out this evil alien who was posing as a Raspberry. You see this particular species gets incapacitated by brain freezes so Aunt Raz held the inaugural brain freeze contest. The first one to get a brain freeze wins. And the guy had to participate or else look suspicious. Keeled over after three bites.”

“Huh. Aliens.” Stella said. “Well, there you go Chandra.”

Her cousin did not look convinced. “And when did this supposedly happen?”

“Back in like the fifties or sixties. Earth was a tourist hot spot back then for all the aliens. They all wanted a front row seat to our first space missions.”

“But the contest has been going on longer than that.”

Duke shrugged. “I’m just telling you what I was told.”

Chandra looped her arm through Stella’s. “Come on, Mrs. Grant is waiting.”

“I’m telling you, it was aliens!” Duke shouted after them.

“I believe him.” Stella said. Chandra rolled her eyes.

“Believe what?” Ashley joined them, carrying a tub of unused water balloons.

“That we have the brain freeze contest because aliens tried to invade the family.”

“Not aliens. Alien. Single.” Chandra said. “And I’m telling you, it was not an alien.”

“Chandra’s right.” Ashley said giving them a look that only twelve year olds can give when they think you’re being ridiculous. “My mom told me the real reason.” She looked at them expectantly.

Really? She just couldn’t tell them?

“What did your Mom say?” Chandra asked.

“That we have it because this bazillionaire fell in love with Aunt Raz the first time he saw her and begged her to marry him. She refused of course but he wouldn’t give up, so, she came with a plan.”

“As always.” Stella interrupted. Ashely glared at her. Stella bit back a smile and mimed zipping her lips.

“Anyways,” Ashely said. “Aunt Raz challenged the guy to an ice cream eating contest. The first one to get a brain freeze lost. Aunt Raz obviously won so we now have the contest to celebrate her victory.”

“The alien is more believable.” Chandra muttered.

Ashely narrowed her eyes. “Victory over a rich guy is a thousand times better than aliens.” She looked at Stella. “Which do you believe?”

Knowing Aunt Raz, either could be true. “I don’t know. I think I could believe either.” Though the alien one was funnier to her.

“What could be true?” Tyrone came out of the second living room, tape and scissors in his hands. Chandra lifted an eyebrow. “Streamer duty.” He said. “But what were you talking about?”

Stella smiled to herself. There was no such thing as a private conversation in this family. “How the brain freeze contest came to be. We’re between Aunt Raz uncovering an alien or getting rid of a superrich guy who wanted to marry her.”

Tyrone snorted. “Neither.” He tossed an arm around Stella’s shoulders. “What really happened was that these two dudes were fighting over this nice little piece of property. Both claimed they had staked their rights first and they wanted the land so bad, they were ready to duel over it.” He gave them a look saying what he thought of that. “And then…”

“Aunt Raz happened.” Stella said.

“Aunt Raz happened.” Tyrone repeated. “She was walking by when she heard them challenge each other and she did what Aunt Raz always does.”

“She got involved.” The three girls said. It was a no brainer. Aunt Raz always got involved.

“Exactly. So she suggested they have an ice cream eating contest. First one to get a brain freeze won. Doctor X hooked her and the dudes up with the very first brain freeze measurers. There wasn’t going to be any cheating in this contest. Word got out. The whole town showed up. The mayor even officiated. Course the two dudes were absolutely shocked when Aunt Raz sat down with them.” A smile spread across Tyrone’s face. “And then Aunt Raz gave them one of her classic lines.”

“Afraid?” Ashely quoted one of their aunt’s most famous lines. Almost as famous as “Who, me?”

“And after being called out like that, it’s not like the two dudes could turn her away. The mayor called “go”, and the three of them started shoveling ice cream down. Aunt Raz won.”

Of course she had. There was no other way this story was going to end. Still, Stella grinned.

“And that is how she got this property to build Raspberry House on.” Tyrone gestured around them. “And that’s why we have the brain freeze contest every year. To celebrate the beginning of us all being here.”

“I vote for this story being true.” Stella said.

“Same.” Ashely agreed. “Aunt Raz beating two guys. Classic.”

“It would be funnier if the two guys were aliens, but, yeah,” Chandra said. “Definitely this story.”

Tyrone offered them a bow.

“What are you all doing? We have a celebration to prepare for.” Mrs. Grant walked quickly towards them, her laser-like gaze pinning them. “Tyrone, those streamers aren’t going to hang themselves.”

“Yes Ma’am.” Tyrone practically ran back to the second living room.

“And Ashley, we need those balloons filled up for the races.”

“On my way.” Ashley said.

“And Chandra, I sent you to find Stella not lollygag with her.”

“Sorry.” Both girls said.

Mrs. Grant spun on her heel back towards the kitchen. They followed after her. Stella studied the housekeeper’s back. Mrs. Grant had known Aunt Raz the longest. Rumor had it she was as old as Raz herself. “Hey, Mrs. Grant. Do you know how the brain freeze contest got started?”

Mrs. Grant stopped by the kitchen doorway. “No. I do not. Now, ice cream.” She gestured them inside.

Chandra and Stella slipped past her and took seats on stools next to each other to start hand cranking the dessert.  Chandra sighed. “Now we have three stories. They can’t all be true.”

“Not every part of them. Maybe it’s like the telephone game- they’ve gotten told so many times, people have forgotten some bits and embellished other parts.” It seemed like the only reasonable explanation. That or Aunt Raz had given a different story each time someone had asked- also very possible.

“So, in other words, we are never going to know how it really got started.”

“Nope.” Stella cranked the handle. She gave Chandra a sly look. “Unless we convince William and Buck to do a little time traveling with us.” She wiggled her eyebrows.

Chandra stared at her for a moment and then laughed. Stella joined her. Some things were better left a mystery.

What Really Happened…

Raz stared at the two hat-looking contraptions on her desk and frowned. “What are these supposed to be Doctor?”

Her friend gave her a look as if she was were a dunce. A look she frequently received from the man. “You’re the one who wanted to have an ice cream eating contest. How else are we going to determine who gets the brain freeze first?”

Raz stared at him. Brain freeze first? “Don’t you mean last?”

“No. First.” Doctor X’s Germanic accent grew thicker as he muttered to himself. “Get a brain freeze last? That is easy. Eat slow. No. We need a challenge.”

She opened her mouth to protest. Who wanted to get a brain freeze on purpose? Raz paused. That could actually make things more interesting. She nodded and grabbed one of the contraptions. “Okay Doctor. Brain freeze first it is.”

June 15, 2021 18:42

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