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It's a pig's life
by Mad Dog


The two women who brought the pig on board the US Airways flight somehow managed to convince the airline that the pig was a ďtherapeutic companion pet,Ē similar to a blind personís seeing-eye dog and Richard Gereís gerbil. 
    Thereís something terribly wrong when pigs are living better than I am. Whether that says more about pigs or me is up for grabs, but to be honest Iíd rather not think about it too much since I have a sneaking suspicion I know what the answer is and, like what that stuff in the center of those Krispy Kreme doughnuts is made of, I donít want to hear it.

    First there was the pig which flew first class from Philadelphia to Seattle on US Airways back in October. At first glance this isnít unusual, since Iíve sat next to quite a few pigs while flying. In fact, the airlinesí ticketing computers are programmed to seat them next to me. If no pigs have bought tickets, it searches for colicky babies with a certified wail louder than 120 dB, women hauling eight photo albums of their grandchildren which theyíre certain I want to see, and dudes listening to headphones that are louder than the sound in a movie theater. If none of these are available, it automatically cancels the flight and puts me on the next available one which makes four stops rather than being direct.

    The two women who brought the pig on board the US Airways flight somehow managed to convince the airline that the pig was a ďtherapeutic companion pet,Ē similar to a blind personís seeing-eye dog and Richard Gereís gerbil. Even though they claimed they had a doctorís note, itís hard to figure out what he could have written that would fool anyone. ďThese women have a pathological need to be close to the only squealing 300-pound animal which isnít playing for the XFLĒ just doesnít seem like it would pass muster. Not even with a flight attendant.



Smithfield, you see, is an artistic pig.  Maybe thatís why he gets to stay in the Mayflower Hotel and is ferried around New York City in a limo while I take the subway to the Motel 5 where I dream about riding in a taxi and stepping up to a Motel 6. 
    But it did. The pig sat on the floor in the first row of first class. It was calm and peaceful until they announced that the dinner choices were chicken and roast pork. Just kidding. Actually it didnít get upset until the plane was taxiing towards the terminal in Seattle, where reportedly it ran up and down the aisle squealing. Needless to say, people were upset, but thatís only because it got in the way of their jumping up and grabbing their things out of the overhead compartments so they could get off the plane 43 seconds faster.

    Iíve never flown first class, and it doesnít do my self-esteem a lot of good to think that an animal thatís better suited to being Easter dinner is being treated better than I am. Unfortunately, this isnít an isolated case. Recently a 150-pound Vietnamese potbelly pig named Smithfield stayed in the Mayflower Hotel in New York. I havenít stayed there, but I strongly suspect itís a nice place since for years Iíve heard announcers say at the end of TV shows, ďGuests of the show stay at the Mayflower Hotel,Ē and I donít think theyíd put them up in a place where they ask if you need the room for longer than an hour and have a vending machine on each floor which sells cans of Raid. You know, like the ones Iím used to.

    Smithfield was in New York City because he appeared on ďLive! With Regis and Kelly.Ē He was there to audition as Kathie Leeís replacement, not realizing that the job had already been filled. Just to show that he wasnít a sore loser, he went on the show and ran through his tricks. He turned around on command, stuck out his tongue, rang a bell, and painted a porcine masterpiece.



 I know itís not healthy to be jealous of pigs. And Iím not, really. Even though some of them get to fly first class and stay in fancy hotels while I donít, most of them still end up on sandwiches with Swiss cheese and mustard. 
    Smithfield, you see, is an artistic pig.  Maybe thatís why he gets to stay in the Mayflower Hotel and is ferried around New York City in a limo while I take the subway to the Motel 5 where I dream about riding in a taxi and stepping up to a Motel 6. His paintings have sold for as much as $1,200 in his hometown of Richmond, Virginia, where heís appeared at the Science Museum; wore a red costume, reindeer antlers, and rang a bell for the Salvation Army at Christmas; and lectures regularly at the University of Richmond School of Economics about pork belly futures. Obviously he hopes his has a future. A long one.

    His owners treat him awfully well. He had a babysitter until he was eight months old, he sleeps on the floor of the den, and he gets a hoof manicure every three months. Itís true I had babysitters from time to time. And yes, I slept in a bed. But Iíve never had a manicure. Of course, to be honest I never wanted one. Until now. And thatís what scares me. Something tells me itís not a good sign to find myself wanting to ďKeep up with the pigs.Ē

    I know itís not healthy to be jealous of pigs. And Iím not, really. Even though some of them get to fly first class and stay in fancy hotels while I donít, most of them still end up on sandwiches with Swiss cheese and mustard. And while some people think pigs are better than humansóafter all, theyíve never started a war, destroyed the environment (unlike cows which release methane gas), or perpetrated crimes against humanity like airing ĒThe MoleĒó theyíre still pigs. But that doesnít mean I want them sitting next to me on an airplane or snorting around the next room at a hotel. Though I will say itís probably better than another colicky baby with a 120 dB wail.   

©2001 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read them before the pigs do.

 

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