At first, I couldn’t imagine who might have stolen my pig. It was of little value. It was just a small, pink, squeezable, stuffed pig, made of vinyl and stamped with the name of the local meat processing plant. As a secretary at a large high school, I sometimes was so stressed that if it had been a real pig, a rack of pork ribs and a side of bacon might have popped out of him.
One day I noticed he was missing. I was feeling stressed and desperately needed to put the squeeze on him. I panicked. At my request, the next school day this announcement was made over the loudspeaker: “Whoever took the secretary’s stress pig, please return it ASAP.”
Not only was the pig not returned, I found on my desk the next morning a photo of the missing pig. He was hanging from a string and dangling over a toilet in mid-flush. It was just like in “The Godfathers” movie, when Jack wakes up to find the severed head of his prized horse in his bed. I was horrified! Clearly, my stress pig had been kidnapped and was in grave danger.
The next morning brought another photo. This time my pig was lying in the road in the direct path of an oncoming steam roller, inches from being flattened.
On day three, I got the ransom note. It had been pieced together from mismatched letters cut from magazines and newspapers and glued to the page. I was instructed to leave ten thousand dollars in unmarked bills under the statue of the school mascot in the lobby if I ever hoped to see my stress pig again.
I worked with 1500 teenagers. It was clear that my pig and I had become the butt of a practical joke. I decided to go along with the gag, since there is no limit to the trouble and expense I will put out in order to get a few laughs.
I went to a local toy store and purchased several packets of toy money. I counted out the ten thousand dollars and made the ransom drop as instructed, then anxiously awaited the kidnapper’s next move. I didn’t have to wait long.
I got another note. It said, “Do you think we are stupid? This is clearly counterfeit money. There is a giraffe’s picture where the president’s photo usually appears. Consider your pig dead!”
The next morning I had this announcement read over the loudspeaker: “The secretary has accepted the likelihood that her beloved stress pig has been kidnapped and murdered. Therefore, a funeral will be held this Friday after school in the teachers’ lounge. Faculty and staff are encouraged to attend. Following the eulogy, the burial will take place in the school courtyard, after which, refreshments will be served in the lounge.”
If my pig were indeed deceased (and a real pig), by this time he would have been processed into assorted table meats. So after work I went to a local pet supply store and purchased a package of dog treats called, “Beggin’ Strips,” which are designed to look exactly like genuine bacon, although they sure don’t taste like it. Don’t ask me how I know. Mind your own business.
Then I shopped at an office supply store where I found a small wooden pencil box shaped just like a tiny coffin. It even had a wooden top that slid down, which I could use to view the corpse. Since the kidnappers had not returned the body, the Beggin’ Strips would have to take its place.
I placed the Beggin’ Strips in the box and stapled a bouquet of tiny silk flowers to the lid. Then I draped a black cloth over a rolling cart, placed the coffin in the middle, and prepared the teachers’ lounge for the service. Folding chairs were arranged in rows facing the podium.
On the day of the funeral, I wore a black dress and black shoes and pinned a black veil over my face. The teacher who sponsored the school’s yearbook was there taking pictures, which later took up an entire page in the next yearbook. As I greeted the guests, I dabbed at my eyes with a handkerchief and sniffled loudly, punctuated by frequent nose blowing.
One of the school’s guidance counselors was an ordained minister and delivered the eulogy. He delivered it solemnly, even though it was peppered with pig puns. I heard a few snickers amongst the mourners and I glared at them in mock disapproval. I suspect they were only there for the refreshments.
Following the service, I led the procession, wheeling the cart and the coffin through the halls to the courtyard, where the interment was to take place. We were met by a custodian, who was leaning on a shovel. He dug a hole and I placed the pencil box in the hole. I expressed my gratitude for the short time I had with my pig and my appreciation for the stress relief he provided. I also vowed to bring his murderers to justice. There was a brief final prayer and the custodian filled the hole.
Following snacks in the lounge, I returned to my desk and found a large glass jar. In it was my stress pig, floating in clear liquid. A crudely printed label read, “formaldehyde.” I would have been horrified if I had not been laughing so hard.
A few years later, I grinned as I watched a large backhoe prepare the courtyard for an addition to the school. I wondered what might happen if his backhoe disinterred my tiny coffin full of Beggin’ Strips. The custodian who had performed the burial came to stand behind me and said with a chuckle, “Hey, isn’t that right where we buried your pig?’
“Yes,” I said. “That driver had better get a good lawyer. What’s the penalty for unauthorized disinterment?”