Pig Crazy

by David Francis

DISCLAIMER: I have used my sister Gail as inspiration for this story. I won't say that she really has done a single one of the things I mention in this story, but she really does hate pigs a lot. More than I would consider normal or even healthy. I probably should change her name to spare her character, but, then again, its not like I'm saying she isn't really a lunatic and that the world is better for having her roaming free and unsupervised. I'm just saying that some of the parts about pigs is made up.

Fear of animal attack is no longer common among most North Americans. There's still the occasional dog bite here and there, I suppose, but unless you happen to live out in the true wild, dangerous animals aren't a major concern. In fact, recent statis tics reveal that the majority of injuries resulting from altercations with animals today, occur in barnyards where farmers occasionally get kicked, bitten, or scratched by their typically docile animals.

I received these statistical facts from my sister, Gail, and, as I suspect it would be with most people, I found nothing shocking or suspicious about them. But then again, like most people, I accept the existence of pigs on this planet as an entirely un troublesome and normal state of affairs. Such is not the case for Gail. Gail is currently leading a one-person crusade to educate the world about the dark truths of pigs, and I do believe she harbors hopes of eradicating these animals from the planet entirely some day.

If you knew Gail, you would not imagine her capable of possessing the distrust, disgust, and loathing which she does for this common, domesticated animal. For the most part, Gail is a kind, caring, and understanding person and she does not normally cling to fantasies of genocide for any species. But, sadly, her usually gentle disposition falls far short of accepting pigs as anything but the embodiment of pure Evil.

You might imagine that this harsh prejudice has its roots in a childhood memory. I couldn't really say for sure. I know that she did read Animal Farm at a young an age. I haven't questioned her too deeply on the matter because I really don't want the bother of becoming someone to whom she feels she can turn. This is pretty much the attitude of my entire family. She had a boyfriend once that tried to get us all to support her and help her face her pig-phobia, but my siblings and I responded unanimously that, given Gail's demonstrated ability to fixate on a subject such as pigs and to treat that subject to such torrents of dark paranoia, we preferred to let her keep her pig-phobia than running the risk becoming targets ourselves. We figured if this boyfriend managed to get her over her pig problem, she would just pick up a new mania, and, as her dysfunctional and maladjusted family members, we assumed her boyfriend would have reasonably directed these emotions towards us. So naturally we had no intention of providing this guy with any kind of support. While he tried to convince Gail that pigs were not things to be feared, we did nothing to dissuade her from her convictions. In fact, when she told us how her boyfriend did not believe any of her pig-conspiracy theories, we asked her if she didn't find it strange that he always seemed to take sides with the pigs. He didn't last too long after that.

Still, before Gail branded this fellow as "one of them" and stopped seeing him, he did actually discover that much of her dementia originated around the fact that pigs have a proven history of eating people. Actually, we already knew that Gail believed pigs ate people, but we had always assumed this was just a manifestation of her wild mental imbalance. As it turns out, there really are documented cases of domesticated pigs eating people.

In Gail's defense, I think this information could be a little disconcerting to anyone. Most people don't envision barnyard animals as man-eaters. As near as her boyfriend could tell, the story which introduced Gail to this questionable trait in pigs involved an elderly farmer suffering a heart-attack as he was slopping his hogs. Once the animals found him immobile, they had no qualms with participating in a little role reversal with the unfortunate farmer. I guess people who know pigs well don't find this surprising. There are actually a number of cases like that reported from time to time--though certainly not with the frequency that Gail imagines.

Still, even with this unpleasant truth about pigs revealed, no one can really take side with Gail's conspiracy theories, and certainly everyone who knows her dreads receiving the monthly pamphlets she sends out with manic statements like: "The man who could have discovered the cure for AIDS has probably already been eaten by a pig!" or "One out of every 200 children in the United States is eaten by a pig!" She writes editorials to local newspapers. She goes through the phone book a little bit each night telling people to demand their congressman to take some sort of action against America's "Pig Problem." Alerting the nation to the truth about pigs has become a crusade for Gail--and a complete embarrassment to her friends and family.

Social events are typically disastrous. Gail can be charming and witty at times, and at a dinner, wedding, or party she may function perfectly well for hours and hours. But sooner or later, you know someone is going to casually mention pigs, and then a splendid evening turns tragic. It doesn't take much to set her off and the absolute worst is when she comes into contact with people who think pigs are cute.

It is a truly foreign idea to me, having dealt with Gail's pig-phobia for so long, but there are people who think pigs are cuddly little animals. They tend to collect pig paraphernalia such as pig dolls, pig ear rings, pig knick knacks, pig posters, etc. My girlfriend's mother is one of those people and I remember with pain when Gail first met her. I tried to steer the conversation away from pigs, but eventually she began to proudly discuss her pig collection. Gail smiled evilly as she mentioned each item, and when she had finished Gail put on a face of mock surprise. "Oh," she said, "Isn't your collection missing something?" Then with instant rage she screamed: "Like pictures of pigs devouring small children, perhaps? Blood-stained snouts rooting around in the chest cavities of helpless innocents? Statues of these demons laying ruin to the land?"

I'd seen it happen a million times before, so before things got any worse (and they would have) I was able to tear her away from these rantings and lock her alone in a room with a pound of ham for her to gnaw away at until she calmed down again.

I'm not a psychiatrist, but I think its obvious that this uninformed perception of pigs as cute and pleasant is the true basis for Gail's singling out the creature the way she does. After all, a lot of animals have histories of eating people, yet I have never heard her complain about sharks, tigers, or crocodiles. Its the subtle and unsuspected killings they perform that upsets her. I bet if one of those videos in which unique footage of dangerous animals attacking people is packaged for your viewing pleasure, would, just once, include a few clips of pigs devouring an unsuspecting individual, Gail would feel a lot better. Right now she feels she is fighting the battle for Pig Awareness on her own.

I guess that is what I'm trying to do in writing this story. If more people realize that pigs do eat people from time to time, then perhaps more people will start loathing the animal and Gail will finally feel she has some support. Would it be asking too much for everyone else to start distrusting pigs the way she does? At the very least, I feel everyone could abandon the notion that they are cute. I'm not saying you have to pick up Gail's insanity or anything, but rather than making my family pay hefty psychiatry bills, it would just make sense to indulge my sister in this. I hope you agree. I would hate to have to inform Gail that you are on the same side as the pigs.