Thursday, May 9, 2013

The legendary pig story.

The pig story.  Be patient.  I trot this out every so often with my students and see what I hook. It's usually good for one or two BIG FISH...   It's all in the detail, and the delivery.  Originally published in my older mostly frisbee blog.

OK. I don't know if you knew this but my dad is a doctor. In fact, he scored the highest score in the state of Georgia on his medical boards. That is to say, Smith's are good at standardized tests. Anyway, Rodney aced his shit at the Medical College of Georgia, and was valedictorian.

As an aside, my mom or my dad was summa cum laude at Emory, and the other was magna cum laude at Emory. I'm not sure which is which, but my mom was better, and she graduated in 3 years, to my dads' 4. Apparently for all their smarts, neither was smart enough to keep an accidental child from occurring. Apparently they were right in Health class.

In any event, my parents moved to rural Maryland, where my dad entered school, and at Georgetown in Residency, redeemed himself in his inability to be number one in the family. He was served to the National Institute of Health, where he served in early viral pathology research.

Afterword, we moved to a rural area outside Atlanta. I was in 2nd grade, but I was stuck in a mix of city and country.

My mom, despite the fact that she was magna, or summa, or whatever, had been burdened down by 4 kids in 6 years. or perhaps she was bored, or, as will be revealed, capricious, as she was several years away from being one of the few people in the country who passed her CPA exam, all 4 parts, in one attempt... but I digress.

Mom was given a gift: as far as I know, it was the first Vietnamese potbellied pig purchased in the USA . This pet pig turned out to be ACTUALLY, a full on PIG, and grew up big and strong.

Albeit, with 3 legs.

So anyway, there we were, living in Northern Georgia, and as was the case in the 70's and 80's, it was not uncommon for a doctor to be both a doctor, and as was the case for my father, following his passions, a farmer.

in any event, in late 1979, or early, 1980 (i can't remember), our family farm was visited by a traveling vacuum salesman. Now you have to imagine the scene; at the time my parents (now happily divorced) were happily married, but during this era, cable was non existent, north Atlanta was farmland, there was no internet, and my dad was too smart for his own good.

On this particular day, I was home. Technically, I was the 'owner' of this pig. I mean, once we realized 'PIG' was just a pig, not 'Gavroche', we were all pretty OK w/ raising 'PIG' to be food. But like many young children of age 5, I was not a good steward, and, my dad was the de facto parent.

But I remember the salesman showing up, and the conversation went something like this.

The salesman showed up, and asked my father about our current vacuum cleaner. It was late 70's and we DID in fact own a perfectly serviceable vacuum cleaner.  He was however blessed, or cursed, with a proclivity for bullshit, and he brought this salesman in with his usual vigor associated with boring afternoons grilling proselytizers on scriptural detail. he was not particularly devout, but like many southerners growing up during this time, he was fairly well educated in the distinctions between Leviticus law and new testament 'turn the other cheek' issues.

He was educated, even beyond his rather egregious knowledge of 2 season corn growing, viral pathology, and Georgia basketball, in the area of basic fundamental dogma. and more specifically, he was extremely well versed from years of reading Scientific American, and felt comfortable grilling some yokel Yankee in the arena of vacuum technology.

In any event, I remember well my father, gentleman farmer, sitting there with his tie on (as was the case with many gentlemen farmers of the era), meeting with this particular salesman. And as the salesman insisted on showing his vacuum's ability to suck up coffee grounds, etc... my dad kept going for more virulent dirt, and nails, etc. He was being a jerk.. I mean, my dad was a doctor. We had a vacuum. Technically, we had a maid. but, life on the farm had boring moments, and dad was never one to fail to capitalize on them.

In any event, after a couple hours of my dad grilling this young man about venturi effect and Bernoulli law, he finally let him off the hook. But as the salesman was leaving he commented upon my pet pig.

Now, as I mentioned, PIG had originally been named Gavroche (named for the urchin in Les Miserables) but when it turned out that he was not in fact a Vietnamese Potbellied pig, but in fact, a full on HAWG, he became my pet. but as is often the case when you give a pet to a child, care of PIG fell to dad. Well, our three legged pig was extremely bright, and, as the vacuum salesman watched, limped in and out of the door, over and over.

And as he was leaving, the young salesman had the temerity to say to my father, 'Say sir, I'm just dying to know, what's up with your 3 legged pig?' And my father replied with the following story.

'Well son, once, one march, we all were sleeping soundly. meanwhile ,our Christmas tree was downstairs. Now, I admit, I should have disposed of that tree some time earlier, but the fact is, the can of seven up i poured into the base of that tree had in fact evaporated, and perhaps, my tree was a bit dry. Suffice to say, a bit of an electrical spark occurred, and that tree caught on fire.'

At this point, the young man interjected (i was busy doing whatever it is 5 year olds did in 1980 georgia, probably eating pudding) 'so, did the fire burn the pig?'

My father replied, 'No, No, No, sir. have you been paying attention? You see that doggy door there? That pig, raised like a member of the family, ran into the house, and woke me up, and we were all saved!!!!'

the young man replied, 'so, I don't get it. The pig got burned?!!!'

My father rolled his eyes, and said, 'young man you just don't get it. Let me tell you another story.'

'I was out running the combine one time between house calls' (did I mention my father was a gentleman farmer) when it broke down. I got out to free up the blades when my tie (again did i mention my dad was a gentleman, physician farmer) got caught in the blades.'

The vacuum cleaner salesman interjected, 'so the pig got caught in the blades?'

My father replied, 'Ah callow youth.  No,  there i was, being dragged in, when PIG came running out, ran across the fields as my good for nothing son sat at home playing atari PITFALL, ran up to the combine, and... to this day I don't know how or why, came up and bit my tie off at the neck. I don't know why or how, but PIG saved my life!!!!'

The traveling salesman replied, 'sooo did the pig get caught in the wheels?;

My dad replied, 'SON, are you listening!'

The salesman got up to leave, scratching his head, and as he finally walked out the door said, 'sir, dr. smith, i just don't get it. why does your pig have only 3 legs?'

My father said, in the way that only a doctor with too much time on his hands could say,' damn boy, don't you get it! you can't eat a pig like that all at once.'

morrison luke smith
(c) morrisonlukesmith

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