Once upon a time on a Tuesday morning my kid was complaining in the back seat of the car. It was irritating. We drove through country roads on the way to Grandma’s house. We drove over a bridge. We drove through some woods. My husband fidgeted with the window. The baby slept. The complaining was ramping up toward hysteria when all of a sudden we nearly hit a pig.
Right there in the middle of a road that sees maybe 15 cars in a whole day stood a pig. It had a broken hind leg and was hobbling about on its three good hoofs in no particular direction. I pointed out this anomaly to my kid. He wasn’t impressed until Dad said, “Hey! We have to save this pig! What would the Wild Kratts do?” That caught our son’s attention.
And just like that my husband and I found ourselves in the middle of an adventure in which we were required to both narrate and quickly improvise. There was a real chance we might actually see this pig get hit by a car. Where we live there are plenty of dingbats who drive as if they are on the autobahn. Since my town has more than 60 miles of unsupervised road it is no wonder the speed limits are treated more like unhelpful suggestions.
So the hunt was on for the local farmer with the lost pig. My son was pretending that he was a Wild Kratt Kid (from The Wild Kratts) looking for Farmer Renkins (from Curious George). We stopped at the store across the street from the pig. No one knew where it came from. But there were two small farms nearby, they said.
Off we went.
First stop, an old man’s house half a mile away.
He didn’t know.
As we were pulling out of the old man’s driveway, a pickup truck was waiting to pull in. It seemed he too saw the pig. After a few friendly exchanges through the window we realized that this game of spontaneous save-the-pig-adventure might have a severe ending that our four year-old wasn’t ready for. The man in the pickup was looking to see if he had dibs on shooting the pig in the head.
Free bacon is free bacon, after all.
My husband and I exchanged worried glances and I sped off all autobahn style down the road toward another farm. When we pulled into the driveway my husband jumped out and skipped up the front steps. He knocked on the door and a lady appeared. She was friendly looking with a big smile and clear eyes. The pig was not hers, she said, but if we wanted to go through the trouble of saving it, she would be happy to take it in.
87 seconds later as my husband and I were wondering out loud how hard it would be to stuff a pig into a hatch-back, we saw that the truck with the gun-happy bacon lover was stopped in the middle of the road with his truck doors open. This was the same portion of road where we last saw the pig alive.
The pig had been hit.
It was dead.
Our child couldn’t see out the front window. So, we reimagined what was happening and very loudly – and as cheery as possible – declared that Farmer Renkins had found the pig and was loading him into the back of his truck.
The kid bought our story.
Later that morning I crossed bacon off the grocery list.