Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 2-18-13
Gertrude (not her real name) has oceans of creativity, inventiveness, originality, imagination. Plus a huge talent for singing. When she belts out a blues number, the rafters shiver and Loretta Lynn looks nervous.
Naturally, Gertrude is one of our “stars” in this year’s Wild and Woolly and Full of Fleas variety show. As usual, she devises clever and humorous skits to enhance her song selections. When she mentioned her latest idea, I had to ask, “You want to do what?”
“Carry a pig,” replied Gertrude.
“You mean a stuffed animal, I presume?”
“No, a real one. He’s real tame.”
“You want to pack a live pig in your arms while singing Train Whistle Blues?”
Gertrude must have detected the considerable doubt and astonishment in my voice because she expanded on the porcine topic. “He’s a little tiny thing,” she said. “He’s a pet that belongs to a friend. He has the run of her house.”
“I suppose it’s a pygmy critter?” I asked.
“Uh-huh, and he’s really cute.”
“Well, now, Gertie,” I said soothingly, “if you carry — what’s its name, by the way?”
“Henry,” said Gertrude.
“Okay, if you go onstage packing Henry in your arms, what happens when the curtain opens and closes?”
“Well, he’s real tame.”
“Supposing Henry panics and squirts out of your arms?”
“Oh, he’s real little; I could hold him tight.”
“Gertrude, have you ever heard a pig squeal?”
“Well, a …”
“I know you can sing loudly, but even your voice can’t compete with a shrieking, squealing frightened pig.”
“But he’s real tame,” argued Gertrude.
I countered with, “Who would look after Henry during the show? You’d need a cage with food and water. Intake of chow would lead to certain bodily excretory functions. It would require a truckload of deodorant to cover the er-effluvium.”
“Oh, I’d just carry him during my song and then I’d hand him back to his owner.”
I had a brief flash of temptation to accept the idea of a pig in a poke, so to speak. I imagined the advertising and publicity: “Come to the show; see the wild and woolly live pig …”
Then I envisioned a panicky pygmy swine stampeding off the stage, darting into the audience where folks would attempt to capture the critter. The thought of the ensuing shrieks and squeals — and those would be from the audience — gave me pause.
Bottom line: You’re all invited to Wild and Woolly and Full of Fleas show, but don’t get your hopes up. If you see a pig on stage, it’ll be a stuffed toy. It’s fat and pink and Gertrude has named it Henrietta. ❖