When I was 9 we lived on an acre in farm country, although our place wasn’t a farm, we were just surrounded by them. My best friend lived on such a farm right up the grassy rutted track from my backyard blackberry bushes. Her older brother was in 4H and raised sheep and pigs. One day when visiting my friend she took me out to see her brother’s brand new piglets that had just been born to his prize sow. The piglets were adorable; plump and pink with cute little snouts and wiggly ears.
Oh how I wanted one of those piglets – so much cuter than dogs! Well, why not? So I tore off running down the grassy track back to my house, and burst into our kitchen where my father sat peacefully reading the Sunday paper. I shrilled out, as only a 9-year-old can, “Daddy! Can I have a pig? Can I can I? They’re so cute and he said he’d sell me one for only $10, can I have $10 please, Daddy?”
Now most suburban fathers, normal ones that is, would say something like, “No of course you can’t have a pig. Don’t be silly.” But my father was not your average father, or normal either. What he said was, “Well that’s an interesting idea, let’s discuss it.” In the background my mother, standing at the stove, said, “Oh, Armond …” in a warning tone, but my father ignored her. She said “Oh Armond” a lot, whenever he got an idea.
So we discussed it, and my father got out paper and pencil and he helped me figure out how much money it would cost to build a pig pen in our back yard, and what the pig’s food would cost, and the straw, and how much we could expect to sell our pig for, when it was grown, and whether the whole operation would make us a profit. (You can probably tell that my father was a successful businessman.)
I of course could think of nothing but the cute little pink piggy and its wiggly ears. The upshot was that I did indeed borrow the money from my dad (he made me keep an account book), we bought the pig, built a pig pen, and food, and for about a week I was the happiest 9-year-old around.
Until I got tired of slopping the pig every morning before I went to school, and until the pig grew huge, much bigger than me, and mean too. With teeth. And he was fond of making mud in his pen, the mud being made of pig pee and pig poop, with some straw added for texture. I had to wade through this stinky mud whenever I had to put more straw in his pen. The pig also figured out how to get out of its pen, and discovered the neighbors’ gardens, which he raided regularly.
When we sold the pig I was so relieved I didn’t even blanch when I learned that we sold him to a butcher who promptly killed him. The butcher gave the pig’s feet to my mother, who pickled them and kept them in jars in the pantry. I’d often look at those pigs feet and they would remind me to think before I asked for anything.
And to top it all off, since I bought the pig when pork was high, and sold him when it was low, I lost money.