Sunday, October 08, 2006

Porcine Tragedy

It was approaching five years since I had forsaken the sun-parched flatlands and narrow minds of my birthplace. Less than a year had passed since I had discovered how surly Oregonians become when it dawns on them that you are not just visiting. I had long since established my “non-Californian” credentials, a less than subtle southern accent having made that obvious, and I was well on my way to mastering the native tongue. Acceptance into that exclusionary culture depended on swift assimilation. I measured the success of my transformation by exasperated accusations from friends back home that I had “forgotten how to talk.”

With a grievously depleted treasury now a primary concern, encouraging evidence of success began to materialize. A siege had been laid at the heavily defended fortifications around Portland, the walls had weakened, and now they were beginning to crumble. I had gathered my forces in preparation of storming the breach when the first of those letters arrived in the mail. The return address, bearing the name of my youngest niece, gave me a smile. I retrieved the contents with no regard for the packaging and unfolded the wax-laden paper to expose two crudely drawn stick figures rendered in heavy strokes of crayon. The taller one, sporting no feet, a bulbous head, misplaced elbows, and shoulder length hair, bore a striking resemblance to me. The other, a much smaller figure, had brown hair curled at the ends, fingers that if measured to scale would extend twelve to fourteen inches in length, and a triangle shaped dress. This was my beautiful little niece of course. I would recognize her anywhere. There we stood, ill-shaped appendages splayed at odd angles, awkwardly holding hands. My niece’s feelings about my sudden departure were unmistakable, the evidence of her despair touchingly conveyed in multitudes of tiny yellow dots, tears flowing like waterfalls from the sad eyes of our two-dimensional avatars. Large block letters below the sketch beseeched, who had taken me away and why would they not allow me to come back home? I had not seen any of my family for over a year and I had no expectation of that happening for at least another four or five. I returned the letter to its torn envelope and made a mental note to call.

My prospects for a successful relocation to the Portland area were finally showing promise. Then, another crayon drawing arrived. A week later, another, then they began to appear in the mailbox on a regular basis. I pondered the possibility that my sweet little niece had outsourced her production to an offshore sweatshop. Where the letters had originally made me smile and chuckle, the constant reminders of home were now causing a sick feeling in the pit in my stomach and a lump in my throat. The subject matter remained clear and consistent. There we stood, holding hands, both of us crying our eyes out. Why had I left? When would I return? Did I need her to come and rescue me? That is how I found myself back in the land of chicken-fried-steak and gravy. I decided that it was only fair that the parents of this loving little girl should shoulder the burden of my aborted move. I unpacked my bags at big brother’s house and there I would remain for several months, in the happy company of my nieces, my nephew, and their conniving parents.

---------------- Little niece's sketch of our reunion----------------

Shortly after my return, big brother’s family became aware of a void in their lives that I had apparently not filled. It was determined that these feelings of emptiness could only be alleviated with a pet. There had always been the fish tank and a few snakes hanging around but they were feeling the need for more interactive animal companionship. Something with eyebrows and vocal cords would be just the thing. So began a series of failed pet experiments that finally ended after ten birds, one cat, an iguana, a guinea pig, one tarantula, countless fish, fifty-six snakes, three dogs, and two Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, all within the space of a year.

-------------------Big Brother's House-------------------

Other than the trauma of living with my brother and his family, none of the animals were harmed and all were eventually either released into the wild or were placed in loving homes with families who had no idea what they were getting into. After all was said and done, the family was left with the fish tank, including the original fish, the few snakes they had started out with, and two promising candidates in the form of miniature piglets. Most of the animals were evicted from the household for obvious reasons. My sister-in-law is a compulsive house cleaner which explains the unsuccessful integration of those that failed to maintain control of all bodily secretions, excretions, and/or vaporous emanations. There were other issues; human eardrums sustain irreparable damage at decibels well below the level of casual conversation between Love Birds. The doves were boring, and as with the exploding population of snakes, had no eyebrows with which to convey their devotion, ditto for the spider and the lizard. The piglets on the other hand were well on their way to becoming full-fledged members of the family when tragedy struck. The fate of the pink female piglet would be settled by her fear of the dark and the resulting nocturnal offerings deposited on sparkling clean floors. Her ability to dance on command was deemed insufficient to overcome this shortfall.

The male on the other hand had everything going his way. He was intelligent, much more so than the hogs we had raised back on the farm. He was attentive and vocal without being overly obnoxious. The eyebrows were sparse and a bit bristly but well defined. He also understood the value of a tight set of sphincters while indoors. This was a high priority for the woman of the house considering she would empty her vacuum bag at least once per week, the detritus therein consisting almost entirely of beige colored carpet fibers from the extremely well vacuumed floors. Combine these positive attributes with a curly tail, a funny grunt and a comical stiff-legged gait and you have the perfect pet. The discovery that I could play the little porker like bagpipes further solidified his position in the family. I admit that while my control of tone and pitch left much to be desired, through gentle manipulation of Little Pig’s hindquarters, I was able to eke out a passable accompaniment to Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks.”

-------------------Don't worry, just sleeping-------------------

On any Sunday evening, you might find the family all snuggled into their favorite spots, watching television with Little Pig grunting approval at a well-executed belly scratching or doing double duty as a pillow/heating pad. Our little cloven-hoofed housemate was never left wanting for affection.

Anyone with a working sense of animal nature could have predicted the tragedy that tore this happy family apart, but I guess love is blind. The hairy little sack beneath Little Pig’s tail had been left intact and the unstoppable forces of nature were now on the march. It would soon become apparent that deep inside of Little Pig beat the heart of a fully endowed boar. Then it happened. Piglet needed love, and Piglet found love in the form of Young Nephew’s head. From a certain angle, maybe his head did evoke the rosy hams of a sow in her prime, maybe not. Whatever the reason, Little Pig could no longer contain his love and he mounted Young Nephew’s head right there on the living room floor. To make matters worse, Young Nephew’s rapt attention to the developing plot of a favorite cartoon lead him to shrug off Little Pig’s advances as playful roughhousing. The few short seconds between Little Pig’s breakdown of willpower and a horrified response from Young Nephew’s mother very nearly provided the opportunity for a successful consummation of this unholy union.

As anyone who has ever experienced the power of love can attest, once acknowledged, there is no turning back. Little Pig’s love could not be denied and Young Nephew’s head would never be safe. As the oinker and a full complement of house-hog accouterments were loaded into the waiting car of the new family, I imagined that Little Pig would find other heads to love. In any case, Young Nephew’s would always be his first.

-------------Don't ask, how could I not include this one?-------------


Blogger Anne said...

I hate it when i dont know whether to be disgusted or laugh. Ha ha ha eeewwww!

Much compassion and commiseration about the relatives who want to pull you every which way. Mine do it too, makes me want to run away from home. I keep changing my number but they always find me.

10:26 PM, October 08, 2006  
Blogger I Hate Housework said...

My comment is to something you said early on in your blog. Why is it that "Southern accent" automatically means uneducated or ignorant? And why are we expected to lose it when we move somewhere else?

1:12 AM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hi Anne, the answer to that problem is to move in with them for a couple of months. They will be more than happy to see you go anywhere and for however long you please.

Hello I Hate Housework, I can answer that question in two words, “Gomer Pyle.” If it makes you feel any better, some of our friends in Boston, New York and Minnesota are subjected to the same cultural pressures as we in the south are. Interestingly enough, almost every region in the world has a version of the Gomer Pyle syndrome. All of my favorite accents are scorned in one place or another. It’s human nature I guess.

3:26 AM, October 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh the poor child! Having a pigs knackers thrust in a childs face I agree with Anne I dont know whether to laugh or gasp! But heres a thought, I think introducing the piggy to Zeppelin could have fired up those red blood cells and had the hormones in a havoc, listening to Zeppelin 4 just opened all kinds of sexual feelings - whole lotta love and theres a distinct possibility he got his trotters and ears on the lemon song - I think page and plant and yourself indirectly opened a sexual pandoras box on that family just a possible theory.. Gotta love Zeppelin though

7:38 AM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hi Judith, you have an interesting theory. It would not have been the first time innocence had been lead astray by the lemon song. Until I hear a more logical explanation, I will present yours as fact. That's pretty much how I do things around here.

12:03 PM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger snoopy said...


9:58 PM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger skinnylittleblonde said...

I like how your neice drew your hands waving...and agree with anne's first sentence. LOL...buick.

10:17 PM, October 09, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Snoopy, Hallo mein Freund in der Schweiz.

Hi skinny, I have unfortunately misplace, or lost, all of the sad sketches. Such a drag as they are amazingly forlorn.

10:37 PM, October 09, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

` Whaaa haaa haaaaa! That pig reminds me of a robin I used to have that liked my mom's hand!

1:34 AM, October 10, 2006  
Blogger Orhan Kahn said...

Such lovely pictures with such a beautifully written piece of heart felt honesty.


7:09 AM, October 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was very well-written! I loved reading every bit of it. c",)

1:27 PM, October 10, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

s e e quine, welcome to my blog. Misguided cross species affections are sometimes funny but mostly embarrassing. Dogs have to be the worst about that. I guess cats are just too dignified to stoop to that level.

Orhan, thank you for your kind assessment of my humble efforts. I know I’ve said that before but I really do appreciate it.

Hi Irene, thanks for you patience, I can be long winded sometimes.

4:29 PM, October 10, 2006  
Blogger skinnylittleblonde said...

Slag....lost, as they were meant to be, but forever etched in your heart...if found, they could serve as sad reminders for her. Best that they were lost!

8:27 PM, October 10, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hi skinny, that's a good way to look at it.

10:42 PM, October 10, 2006  
Blogger Eleanor said...



6:52 PM, October 11, 2006  
Blogger photo blog girl said...

Wow, the picture your niece drew totally made my afternoon. Kids are so pure in their emotions, it has a way of making everything seem brighter.

7:06 PM, October 11, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hi Eleanor, welcome to the blogoplex.

photo blog girl, I think I'm the luckiest uncle on the planet.

11:52 PM, October 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great pics. And you saved the best till last. :)

2:03 AM, October 16, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hi Parlancheq, thank you for recognizing the power and glory of that last pic. ;-)

12:11 AM, October 17, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice pics mate...can u tell me how 2 pt pics up..!!
im new here...
please help me out..?!?

7:13 AM, November 21, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hi Dieu Esclave, after you bring up your post editor, you will see a square blue icon directly below and to the left of the “Edit HTML” tab. Click the blue icon to bring up the picture loading utility. It is a lengthy procedure but detailed instructions can be found at the help menu. Look to the upper right side of your main page, click “help,” surf to “posting and editing” and then “how do I post pictures.” It works best for pics in the 50kb range and smaller.

11:36 PM, November 21, 2006  

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