It wasn’t the name he was christened with, but Pig is how everybody in town knew him. It was a versatile moniker not unlike Beaver’s name on Leave It To Beaver. It was his name, “Hey Pig! How’s it going?” and when preceded by an article, it was a description, as in, “Anybody seen the Pig?”
He wasn’t a member of the porcine species, but a giant man-child, with a chest that would make any barrel jealous, and hands the size of hubcaps.
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know him—for various reasons, everybody in Elizabeth City knew him. But once I started dating Petey; his best friend, I got to know him very well indeed.
Sometimes maybe a little too well. It seemed like every time we tried to sneak off for a little privacy, that boy would find us. Listening for sweet talk in my ears, they would instead be assaulted with “Hooty-Hoot!”, Pig’s very own aloha. This was the early 80’s but it was like we were both fitted with GPS trackers. We would go to the mall or deep into the woods, it didn’t matter—The Pig would eventually show up.
With the conviction of medieval Crusaders, Petey and I made a solemn vow to get our Velcro-like friend a woman. But of course when Pig found his own mate, we didn’t think she was good enough for our colossal buddy.
Maybe it was because his first choice was already taken. Once he sat at my mother’s table and ate her spaghetti and meatballs, he was a goner. As a member of the National Guard, he’d eaten his way through Italy, but still insisted that my mom’s was the best he’d ever had.
And she had a soft spot for him. Each December Mom has a luncheon to frost the hundreds of cookies she bakes for the holidays. The rule was, if you break it, you eat it. Which sounds awesome until a second cookie is broken at your hand, and a laser-beam like Mom-eye is turned in your direction, and you spontaneously combust, leaving behind nothing but a pile of smoldering ash.
All except Pig. His first year he broke every cookie he touched. Holding our breath, us veterans watched, waiting for the cyclone of pain coming his way. Except, it never came. In a response that was never repeated for another soul, Mom smiled benignly and let the cookie plunder continue unabated.
The next year she made him his personal batch. He inhaled them all. But not before uttering a pro forma “Oops” each time. This was Pig’s nod to the cookie interpretive dance he and my mother were performing.
His heart was as big as the rest of him. When we moved across town, Petey and the Pig volunteered to help. Early in the day, his eyes lit up while packing one of the bathrooms he spied a Hershey-colored fuzzy toilet seat cover. He slapped it on his head and wore it for the rest of the day. He looked like a French cave man sporting a beret made from the fur of a wooly mammoth.
My brother still talks about that day.
We’d lost touch with the Pig for some time, then one day a couple of years ago we heard a motorcycle pull up, and then our doorbell rang. I opened the door and was confronted with an enormous bald man. I was perplexed, and not a little frightened. Then he opened his mouth.
And said, “Hooty-Hoot!”
Thanks for your time.