I read an article not long ago about police in St., Petersburg, Florida, using a pig to sniff out drugs and other contraband.
The pig did terrifically, the article said, but that didn’t save the pig’s job. It was dismissed from duty because emitted an odor unpleasant to some at the station house. I ask you a question: Didn’t they know ahead of time that pigs just naturally come with a pungent aroma? I’ve been around a few pigs in my day and, although I also found their smell less than pleasing. I understood and accepted the fact that pigs aren’t supposed to smell like petunias.
Pigs rarely get a break. When one person wants to insult another, that person often mentions the pig in a disparaging way. There are many examples: "Clean up your room, Ramona. It looks like a pig sty in here."
"Harold you’re disgusting. You’ve gotten fat as a pig."
"Who was the sweathog I saw you with last night at the Moose Club?"
I recall telling a friend that my wife had given me my first pair of Gucci shoes. "What?" he asked. "That’s like putting earrings on a hog."
Well, let me say this: Since March of 1982 I’ve been part pig. That’s when I received my first porcine aortic valve. In 1985 I got my second pig valve. That’s 11 years and two pigs, both of whom gave me the supreme sacrifice to help me stay alive, and I want to take this opportunity to salute them and all pigs.
Pigs are smarter than most people might think. My grandfather had three pigs named Hilda, Margaret and Big Boy. All three of them knew their names and would run to my grandfather whenever he called them.
My grandfather grew so close to his three pigs that when hog-killing time came, he didn’t want to part with any of his pigs.
My grandmother said, "How can a grown man become attached to three hogs?" A compromise was made and only Hilda wound up in the freezer locker. She was older than both Margaret and Big Boy. My grandfather figured she had had about all the enjoyment a hog could have and wanted Margaret and Big Boy to get that chance, too.
My mother said when she was growing up there was a boy in her class who rode a pig to school every day.
"That pig stood out in the schoolyard and waited for him all day," she explained. "And when school was over, the boy would come out and ride his pig home again."
"One day," mother went on, "the boy showed up at school and his pig had a wooden leg."
Somebody asked, "Why has your pig got a wooden leg?"
The boy replied, "You don’t eat a pig like this all at once."
(I realize there are those who know this is a stolen punch line from another pig story, but don’t spoil everybody else’s fun.) For my upcoming heart surgery I’m getting a new valve. This time it will be of a mechanical sort.
It’s too complicated to explain why I’m not getting another pig valve: just know I’m frankly happy no other pigs will have to give up their hearts to save mine.
I want to say it’s been an honor and a privilege to be part pig these last 11 years, and my eyes will always tear when I pass a barbecue joint.
I also want to thank my Nashville friend and songwriter Dick feller for writing and dedicating a pig song to me. It’s titled "Pig Polo." I think I sniff a hit.
Lewis Grizzard was a syndicated columnist, who took pride in his Southern roots and often wrote about them. This column is part of a collection of his work.