My pig discovered glass today. He understood there was some insurmountable clear space he didn't understand, nor could he get through. Nothing more complicated than a sliding glass door to you and me, but to a pig, a trick, an obstacle that prevented him from doing the thing he did best: eat. As I stood watching my pig push and push on the glass and then finally give up and move away from the door, i could see that he was being aloof, pretending not to care. Because he could see me but was not able to root on me (the thing he did second best), he felt hurt. So he sat down on his haunches, his usual begging position, and waited. Feeling like an unfeeling human being. I slid the door open and them quickly stood aside for his takeoff down the plastic runway into the kitchen, where he knew his food bowl awaited him. Compared to diner, the discovery of glass was inconsequential.
I bought a pig because I wasn't ready for children. I wanted something small and helpless but something that wouldn't require college or "quality time." I figured if the pig didn't work out, we could always have dinner. That's not an option with children.
As it turns out, they don't tell you a lot of things when you buy a miniature pig. For example. they don't mention anything about rooting. Now, most people, if they thought about it for awhile, would probably recall that pigs do indeed root. But a simple word like "root" doesn't adequately encompass the total interest that pigs devote to the earth. For instance, a novice as I used to be might think pigs only root in France when looking for truffles. And I did research before I bought this pig. (My husband made me.) There I was with the encyclopedias, taking down notes about how to prepare their favorite foods and where they like to be scratched, but nowhere do I have any scribbled account that mentions rooting. And now, with half the linoleum gone from our kitchen, it seems it might have been an important point to note.
The pig farm did send us literature, but the literature never mentioned anything about a pig's "airspace." This could be because airspace is a much more common term in San Diego than it is in Georgia. I was unaware of the term until a friend said to me the other day that she and her family almost got a ticket over the weekend. I knew that they had spent the weekend in the desert, an odd place to attract the attention of the authorities, I thought. i asked her what happened.
"Oh, it started with the police flying by in their helicopters, but my father told them that they were in private helicopters, but my father told them that they were in a private airspace and had better leave."
I put the expression "private airspace" away in my brain where I store such terms as "power tools," "fecal material," and "high-octane pig starter" (Spooky's recommended pig chow). I think of these words as attention-getters, the kinds of words comedians use. I know. I used to date one.
My friend's father was the cofounder of a microchip company and is consequently quite wealthy. I suppose those people can use terms like "private airspace" without feeling a trifle smarmy.
"So did you get a ticket?" I asked, not really wanting to prompt her.
"They tried to give us a ticket for riding quads."
It had already been explained to me that quads are these motorized, tricycle-looking things. although the tricycle ones (with three wheels) have been outlawed. Quads, logically have four wheels, and I suppose that makes them a little more steadfast.
"Why would they give you a ticket for riding quad?"
"Oh, they were mad because we were riding through a national park." She made a cthing sound of incredible disgust.
"Is that illegal?" I asked causally.
"They just recently made it illegal."
"Why is that?"
"Oh, they think it causes erosion."
"No! When the rains come, it washes all the tire tracks away."
These are the kinds of conversations that make me want to own a pig in San Diego if only to educate the sheltered individuals who live here that there's a big world out there, and maybe they should take a peek at it (along with the dictionary). Because of this exchange, I now think of everything within pig reach as "Sporky's private airspace." For example, the vacuum cord was hanging there, taunting him, in Sporky's private airspace, so he chomped it. He has a right to anything in his airspace for the simple reason that he will take it. Pigs aren't creatures to hold back their emotions or their curiosity. "Pigs are very intelligent," people often say to me. "Ah!" I say wisely (as I imagine Confucius might have done). "Intelligence," I tell them, "isn't necessarily something you want in a pet." Obviously, they haven't had a smart enough animal to realize this. Sporky has managed to open every kitchen cabinet despite the double child-proof locks (once spilling food coloring all over the kitchen floor and then walking through it a hundred times), and I have to wonder, is it intelligence or simply persistence? If I had a sledgehammer for a nose, what havoc would I wreak?