“What do you mean, you don’t eat bacon?”
I am asked this quite frequently.
No bacon, no barbeque, no pork products of any kind.
People don’t get it.
“Did you have a pig as a pet or something?”
Well, kind of.
We did have pigs when I was growing up.
I thought they were our pets but had a harsh reality one morning.
That was enough to make me not eat sausage or ham for a while.
But the real reason we don’t eat bacon is because of one plush little pig.
Piggie Two should get some credit as well, but it was Piggie Prime who started the absolute non-pork stance.
“A toy pig, and not a real pig?” is the next question.
He may be a toy pig, but he was a big part of my child’s younger years and is still Crouch canon.
I had to explain how Piggie came into our life.
We had ventured to the grocery store one Friday evening, along with scores of other people.
While I shopped and tried to decide what we would want to eat over the coming week, I realized Lamar had taken Cole to another aisle to entertain him.
This was a common occurrence. I go into the trenches of the store while my husband and child wander off like two beagles on the scent of something.
After a solid thirty minutes of wading through dozens of middle-of-the-aisle talkers, holding prayer meetings and high school reunions between the Fruity Pebbles and Raisin Bran, I had managed to make my way to the checkout line.
As I tossed my items on the belt, the wails of a small child rose over the normal noise of the store.
“Did you find everything OK?” the cashier asked.
I nodded, hearing the screams grow louder. Was this child being beaten?
“Paper or plastic?” the cashier asked.
“Plastic,” I answered, hearing the wails intensify.
The cashier didn’t seem to pay it any attention; of course, working in any type of retail can numb you to certain things.
“Do you hear that?” I asked.
She nodded, punching in the code for my tomatoes. “Yeah, kids hate being dragged in here on Fridays when their mamas get off work.”
“That poor child,” I began. “They sound miserable! What kind of parent does that to a child? They are horrible, terrible people for putting that baby through that.”
The screams grew closer as it sounded like the child was nearing the front of the store. I turned to see who the offending parent was and shut my mouth.
There went my husband, toting my red-in-the-face, wailing child under his arm like a football out the door.
Of course, since I had brought the whole scene to the cashier’s attention, she was watching too. “That father’s got his hands full with that one,” she said.
I instantly felt a need to defend my child, who normally was so well-behaved and never pitched a fit.
“I have a feeling it was the father’s fault,” I began. “But some people! My word!”
I had mustered all the righteous indignation I could and paid for my groceries and hurried out the door to the car.
I got in the front seat and turned to look at my child, his face red and covered in tears as he tried to catch his breath.
“What in the world is wrong?” I asked.
Cole couldn’t even speak, he was crying so hard. I looked at his father for answers.
“He wanted some toy and had this meltdown over it,” was his response.
Cole was not the type of child to have a meltdown over a toy. He did beg for celery once in the store, which I have yet to figure out, but he was not one to pitch a fit over a toy.
Lamar nodded. “I am not paying $10 for a stupid stuffed animal.”
“It – wasn’t – a – stupid – stuffed – amiminal,” I heard Cole say from the back seat, his voice catching with every word. “It – was – a – pig!”
“A pig?” I asked gently.
Cole nodded, sucking on his bottom lip. “A pig,” he repeated slowly, his breath finally regaining normalcy. “And Mama, I need it. Please. I asked Daddy for it and he threw it down the aisle!” At the thought of this, the sobs returned.
I glanced at Lamar. “You threw the toy down the aisle?”
“He was grabbing at it and it was too much. I am not paying that much for a toy! That’s crazy!”
Cole wailed. “Mama – I – need – that – pig! I – don’t – know – why – but – I – do!”
I knew two things. Once upon a time, a little girl fell in love with a lavender plush bunny on sight at the five and dime store and she turned down a pair of shoes for them. The bunny somehow spoke to her heart more than those glitter jelly sandals with the ankle strap and she loved that bunny for decades. She still missed that bunny and wondered what happened to it when she grew up, hoping like the Velveteen bunny, her love had made it real.
The second, and the most important thing, was my child never acted like this. So, something must be special about this pig.
“You need that pig?” I asked. He nodded.
“Then let’s go get it.”
He did end up needing that pig. In many ways and on many occasions. Piggie has been his faithful friend, and a part of the family now for well over a decade. And for me, he is a loving reminder of when my son, now a teenager, was small and a plush pig was the grandest thing in the world.
“You still have the Pigs, right?” he asked one day, knowing I am now the Keeper of the Piggies.
I affirmed that I did.
I still have the pigs. And always, always will.