Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lies We Tell Our Children, Part 2

This is a continuation of the story I began here. Click that link before continuing, or you'll be lost.

The Future Aggie was met on the ground by a group of well-wishers.

She brushed them aside as soon as possible, and then said "Ok, Dad, let's go buy a piglet !" Some of the well-wishers followed us, perhaps to make sure I wasn't going to go back on my promise, or perhaps because they'd never seen anyone purchase an Immigrant Boat People Piglet because of losing a bet.

We went back to the Vietnamese Pot-Bellied Pig booth. The runt of the litter was the only one left, and he was marked down to $10. The owners gave us some unhelpful literature on piglets and told us in no uncertain terms that we needed to get this one "fixed" as soon as possible. They didn't have any available info on what that would cost. I was betting it would be more than $10.

This was a male piglet and was immediately christened "Pumba", after the warthog in Disney's "Lion King" movie. He might have weighed four or five pounds.

As soon as The Future Aggie picked up her piglet, a squeal erupted like compressed air blowing through a dozen kazoos, mixed and filtered through Ted Nugent's amplifier system. She instantly put Pumba back on the ground and the noise stopped.

"It's a defense mechanism," the piglet salesman said, as if that much racket had actually come from Pumba. "It scares away predators." Later on, when I had the leisure time to read up on Vietnamese Potbellied pigs, I'd learn that they have a higher decibel level than airliners.

She picked up the piglet again. The Ned Beatty squeal started again. I was expecting officers from ASCAP to appear. But after about 20 seconds, Pumba chilled out and nuzzled into my daughter's shirt.

"Awwwww", said the onlookers.

We laughed all the way home, congratulating ourselves on being Urban Pig Owners, and laughing over the climbing wall adventure.

Once we got home, we cautiously put Pumba in the back yard with our dogs - the yellow lab and beagle we had at the time. The Learjet level squealing had freaked them out, but once all the sniffing was done, they ignored the pig and the pig ignored the dogs. Pumba ran around making tiny little grunting sounds and then started digging. It was ineffectual baby piglet digging, but still, yard digging is yard digging. Later on, I'd learn that the only way to stop this behavior would be to put a ring through Pumba's nose, foreshadowing the currently fashionable Tribal/Pierced look.

Mrs. Whited Sepulchre was away on a church retreat. (They retreat more than the Italian Army....) The Future Aggie and I brainstormed on how to break the news that she was now 1/3 owner of a Vietnamese piglet. We decided to just let it surprise her.

It could've been worse. Once she got over the initial shock and got the obligatory lecture out of the way (I can't even let you two go to Mayfest together, 'cause you'll come back with a pig....) Mrs. WS thought Pumba was cute, as yard pigs go.

For the first month, everything was fine. Pumba wasn't big enough to effectively plow the yard, and he sometimes helped the dogs chase squirrels. I was working retail at the time, and when I came home from late shifts, Mrs. WS would be sitting on the couch watching TV with Pumba in her lap with his head resting against her arm. Like a surrealist Madonna And Child painting. Or a preview of that infamous Tori Amos album cover.

The Future Aggie had a great time with him. They'd invent games where she'd tie a little bag of Purina Piglet Chow in a mesh sack, tie the sack to a rope, and then run Pumba around the yard. He also loved to push beach balls from one place to another.

But then Pumba started growing. And growing. He was no longer a good lap pig. One of the main reasons - we had neglected to get him fixed. A pig's manhood is all interior, not exterior, and any reproductive surgery is quite a bit more complicated (and expensive) than it is for cats or dogs. All of a sudden, The Future Aggie couldn't go into the back yard without being the unwelcome object of Pumba's carnal affections. The little beagle wouldn't even come out of the doghouse. She was totally terrorized. (If you've ever wondered about the size of a Vietnamese Pot-bellied Pig's manhood, it's about....oh, never mind.)

Our backyard began to look like....well, not that much different than it does now. But it was irritating to see the springtime grass ripped up by a pig, instead of being allowed to die from neglect. I was the only one in the family brave enough to go into the back yard to feed the dogs or the pig. (If you've ever wondered what it's like to have your leg.... oh, never mind.)

This event was the final straw: We live on a corner lot, and one day Mrs. Whited Sepulchre came home and saw three Fort Worth Water Department trucks parked by our back yard fence. 5 or 6 city employees were looking, laughing, and pointing at something. When she joined them at the fence to see what was going on, she saw that they were watching Pumba have (ahem) relations with one of his beach balls.

When I got home from work, she told me all about the trauma of being a popular lunch break spot for Civic Employees. "It would be really good," she said, "if we didn't have a pig in our back yard when I wake up in the morning."

It was a tough, tough decision.

Most of my regular readers know that I'm a firm believer in 2nd Amendment rights. Even if it's inside the city limits. Let's just leave it at that.

But the official story is that Pumba went away to live on a farm, where he would be happily surrounded by girl pigs in need of his services, and have plenty of wide open spaces and plenty of beach balls.

That's one of the many, many lies we sometimes have to tell our children.

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