In the fall of 2009, the Dooly County Livestock Association invited me to kiss a pig. It was for a club fundraiser that was going to be held during the Big Pig Jig, the annual State of Georgia Barbeque Championship that’s hosted by the Dooly County Chamber of Commerce.
Jack Dukes came by Bank of Dooly to see me. He named four well-known men who would join me in this endeavor. Somehow that made the pig kissing seem more acceptable. State Senator George Hooks was in the group, plus Myron Mixon, who had already attained legendary status on the barbeque circuit. Local businessman Lee Harris was participating, as was our distinguished Judge of Probate Court, Rooney Bowen, III.
Jack explained that all of us would be in the showring, but only one of us had to kiss the pig. That would be the person who raised the least amount of money. The spectators would vote by dropping cash in our cups. Jack was confident that I’d garner the most donations. In a worst-case scenario, I figured that kissing the cute little pig he described was something I could live with.
We’d hardly stepped into the showring when Lee Harris made us an offer. “I’ll give $500 not to kiss that pig,” Lee said. “You fellows can have all the fun!” We quickly agreed, knowing it was saving the rest of us some money.
That’s when David Stephenson brought Wilbur into the ring. Wilbur had once been a show barrow, raised from infancy by David’s granddaughter, Scout Weesner. But he had grunted and smiled his way into the family. He had become a 600-pound pet with access to a 24-hour buffet. Wilbur was nothing like the precious piglet that Jack and I had talked about.
I made one desperate attempt to skip kissing that pig. My wife, Jane, was in the stands. I went over and asked her to give me her engagement ring. I took it to Jack Dukes and offered to trade that diamond ring for a free pass. I thought it was going to work, but Rooney noticed that the stone looked a lot bigger than something he figured I might buy. Then Jack noticed the paint flaking from the gold band, and he saw the one-size-fits-all slit in the band.
Myron went first. He had a confident approach that I assumed must reflect some prior experience. A camera crew was filming him for his television show, and he gave them their money’s worth. Rooney followed Myron, then George took his turn. I figured all those years in politics had given George an edge on how to approach these kind of situations, so I asked him if he had any advice. “The most important thing,” said George, “is to make sure you are at the right end of the hog.”
I followed George’s advice and puckered up. Wilbur didn’t want to cooperate, so I whispered into his big floppy ear, “If you don’t behave, I’ll buy you and turn you into bacon.” Wilbur knew that he wasn’t for sale, but it shocked him just enough that he paused for a quick kiss.
Wilbur’s makeup seemed a bit heavy and his lipstick far too red, but I’m not sure how much is stylish for an overgrown barrow. Kissing that hog didn’t bother me all that much. What worried me was going behind Myron and Rooney. Sometimes at night I still have trouble sleeping.
I doubt there will be a next time for any of us. George retired from the Senate and I retired from banking. We don’t kiss pigs as readily as we once did. Myron has a worldwide fan club, plus is busy as Mayor of Unadilla. He would be hard pressed to squeeze in a pig kissing event. Rooney could make a case that it might not be appropriate to the office of Probate Judge for him to get back in that pen. I don’t know as it would matter, but I have a longstanding practice of not arguing with judges.
If by chance the five of us ever return to the showring, I believe we can negotiate a better deal with Lee Harris. We took his first offer. Next time I’ll ask to see the pig.
Should you personally encounter this type situation, there are three things that are critical to remember: Ask to see the pig before making any deals. Volunteer to be first. Make sure you are at the right end of the hog.
If I can’t sleep tonight I’m calling Myron and Rooney. It’s my fault for ending up in the back of that line, but it sure would be nice having some good company to help pass the time.