I’ve been thinking about sharing a few memorable stories from my childhood on my blog for awhile now, but have been too embarrassed to do it. Some of the things I’ve lived through… Well, “embarrassing” is putting it mildly. However, I fully believe that the comedic value of most awkward situations is worth the humiliation of being the one to experience it, and as such, I’ve decided that it’s a better idea to share these stories with all of you.
An Embarrassing History: Green Meadows Farm
I was a precocious child. At the tender age of five, my little brother Jessie was born and I was faced with the very awkward realization that my mother did not only exist to cater to my every demand.
I’d oftentimes find myself watching from the outside as my mom would coddle and coo at this small wrinkled rat that she had brought home in place of my new baby brother, which I knew was supposed to be cute and wide eyed and filled with childlike innocence. I wasn’t sure what happened to my real brother, but the tiny little replacement was not up to my high standards.
Instead of doting on me with loving adoration (as a little brother should!), this shrill and smooshed thing cried and pooped and took all my mom’s time away from me — Breastfeeding replaced Coloring Book Time and instead of waking up in the morning with me to watch 90210, she was too exhausted from waking up throughout the night with my brother, whose only mission in his short life seemed to be waking up everybody he could during their most blissful dreams (even the ones involving his older sister finally being asked to replace Kimberly as the Pink Power Ranger).
About a year into having a little brother, I gave up on reclaiming the sole attention of my mother and instead devised a plan to get a new friend — One who would love me and play with me forever.
I was in the second grade. My parents never had a lot of money, but they always found a way to let me go on field trips with the rest of my class and these field trips are some of the only things I remember clearly from elementary school.
On this particular field trip, my class was visiting Green Meadows Farm Petting Zoo, which was more personal farmland than actual zoo. There were donkeys, goats, chickens and pigs. Instead of any discernible pen for the animals to live in, rope was tied haphazardly around a few thick logs jutting up from the earth.
Had I been a bit older, I would have fully expected a chainsaw wielding masochist to come running from behind one of the rusty, leaning sheds. After exploring the current website for a bit, I see now that they’ve clearly undergone some sort of overhaul, because the farm did not look like it does in those current pictures. Or maybe my poor little mind was so warped from sibling jealousy that I imagine it differently; whatever.
After a few hours of being forced to ride decrepit looking ponies and pet calcified goats, the time came. I had known about this field trip, had read all the brochures and handouts the teacher put into my greedy little hands, for weeks. I’d pored over the photos, the lists, the Comic Sans. One word leapt out at me from the pages again and again, causing my heart to race and my breathing to come in hurried gasps:
All over TV and the books I read, people talked about how intelligent pigs were. Every photo of a snub nosed potbelly pushed me closer and closer to the edge. My life became consumed by the thought of having my very own pig to play with, and to color with and have tea parties with and do all the things with me that my mom wasn’t doing anymore because of my tiny little rat brother.
As we approached the tiny gated makeshift pen that the piglets were kept in, my spirit soared. All of my dreams were about to be actualized. I didn’t care about the boy who had tried sticking gum in my hair on the bus or the teacher who scolded me for trying to take two chocolate milks at lunch (I WAS THIRSTY, SUE ME). I didn’t care that my mom loved my baby brother more than me or that, even wrinkled, he was still kind of cute.
All I saw was the piglet. Its eyes met mine, and there was a moment. If you asked anyone else who was there that day about the moment, I’m sure they can attest to the truth of my claim. There definitely was a moment.
As I entered the pen, the piglets eyes stayed locked with mine. The other children ran around to the faster, squealing pigs but this one was all mine. He stared at me with a lazy eye and I heard a snort. My heart swelled with love and I knew that this meant the pig felt it, too.
I tried to be as nonchalant as I possible while approaching my new soul mate. The farmhands (or minimum wage employees, who knows) stood around with a bored sense of indifference. Apparently having thirty small, screaming children running around with half as many tiny, shrieking piglets was just another day for these guys. My teachers were busy trying to keep a small blonde child from taking a bite out of his piglet’s ear, and that was all the motivation I needed to spur my plan into action.
I scooped the piggy up and put him under my shirt and against my belly. I cradled him in a way that would look as if I were suffering from an impossibly painful stomachache, and feigned a look of what I imagined “ill and nauseated” to be at that age. I made a beeline for the open gate and headed for the school buses.
My plan was clear and Operation: Bring Piggy Home was a go. I was about 15 feet away from the chaos that was inside the pig pen when the unthinkable happened.
I will let you in on a little secret: Pigs do not like to be picked up and shoved under a six year old’s shirt. Especially small, scared piglets being held upside down and pressed firmly across the abdomen of a child. The piggy took a hard kick, scraping his little baby hooves against my stomach and breaking the skin. I shrieked, throwing the pig across the yard, and he responded in kind while running in circles as we both screamed and cried and my belly bled.
My teachers and the farmhands all ran over to me, and demanded to know what had happened. One of them grabbed the pig and pointed an accusatory finger at me. “Did you try stealing this pig?” she demanded. I knew that honesty was the best policy, but I also knew that if I didn’t play my cards very carefully, I would end up in trouble or worse — Without my new buddy, forced to sit abandoned and alone while my baby brother was doted on and adored.
“No,” I said, indignation making my voice rise. “He’s my pig. I brought him from home.” I have no idea what possessed me to go with this particular lie. I could have chosen a hundred different, more plausible things. I could have said that he had gotten loose, and I was trying to catch him. I could have told them something, anything else.
“You didn’t bring that pig from home, Cassie. You know that’s not your pig. He needs to stay here with his family, he’ll miss them.” Even at 6 years old, I was familiar the bitter taste of condescension as it slid down the back of my throat and into my belly. How dare these adults lie to me?! I knew that my piglet would love playing with me, he’d never think about his stupid smelly family or their dumb babies ever again! He would be happy!
I don’t know who I was trying to convince more — Them or me. All I knew was that this piglet, this small, pink, googly eyed piglet, was the one chance I had at having a friend in this world that now included a baby brother, and I wasn’t going to let it go without a fight.
“He is so mine! I brought him from home, you can even ask my mom! I AM HIS FAMILY!” By this time, the employees had already started walking back toward the pen with my pig. I cried and I stomped my feet and I pleaded and begged. The teacher’s assistant took me back to the school bus, where I had to sit alone while she flirted with the bus driver for the next 45 minutes until the field trip was over.
As I waited, I stared in what I hoped to be a wistful fashion out the school bus window in the direction of my classmates and their piggy friends. I envisioned my friend, my piglet pal, standing in the center of the pen looking lost and alone while the other children sat blissfully unaware of how special he was. I cried for him, and I cried for me.
Suffice it to say, I never did get a piglet. Eventually, my baby brother started crying less and less, and one day we woke up and he played Bubble Bobble with me instead of chewing on the controllers. I’ll never know what happened to my piglet. He would be almost twenty years old by now. According to Google, it’s likely that he’s dead.
I’ll forever remember you, little one. With every Hawaiian pizza or bacon breakfast, I will think of you fondly and remember our short time together. Although brief and tumultuous, you were my first love and I will never forget you.