Sunday, January 17 2021

from the homework vault: the pig roast

page banner

This week's dose of terrible high school writing comes out of ninth grade. I wrote this story about the time I helped out at a pig roast for church. Johnny and I worked in the church kitchen to grill burgers and hot dogs, but we were called to action to relocate the roasted pig from the grill pit to the eating area. This part of the story was no exaggeration. It was a whole pig - the head and everything. There was even an apple stuck in its mouth, like something out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Six of us kitchen volunteers gently cradled the pig and jogged it across the parking lot. I remember the hot grease burning my hands. I remember the charred skin sliding off the bone and slipping through my fingers. I remember feeling utterly terrified that I would be the one to drop it and smash the succulent smoked meat on the hot blacktop.

But my "hot dog disaster" was nowhere near as bad as it sounded. I didn't tell anyone, but that pig roast was my first time using a grill, and a few of the guys had teased me about how dark my hotdogs were. I felt insecure. For whatever reason, I saw grilling as one of those you have it or you don't skills, like it was the litmus test of being a true man. How ridiculous, right? Grilling is just cooking over a fire, and nobody just knows how to cook. You have to practice, and you have to burn more than a few hotdogs to get good at it.

Without further ado, here is The Pig Roast, dated February 20, 2006.

I never held much deftness in remembering petty dates of significant occasions, but I can confidently recall this one to be somewhere in the humid, lethargic month of July. It was time for the well-anticipated, renown, and slightly barbaric pig roast typically held in the church gymnasium. For better or for worse, I did not witness the readying of the animal, which was traditionally executed over a blistering inferno. However, I was called to assist in the festivities, which proved to be quite rich in virtues that I have not yet forsook to the forgetful streams of time.

Johnny was an interesting guy. I never knew what he was doing until he was finished. In this particular instance, I was just informed that we were going to be grilling a lot of meat. He dropped a few boxes on the cement and turned to me. He crossed his arms and sighed.

"Do you want the dogs or the burgers?" I had never really grilled much before, but I knew I would severely feminize my self-image if I had revealed this. I had burnt a few frankfurters when I was a boy, so I reached a conclusion.

"I’ll get the dogs," I responded. Without thinking, I continued with "I’m the master at grillin’ hot dogs." I was quite aware of the basic ideology, but I was fatally ignorant of one important facet. I liked them a bit charred, but the rest of the modern world did not.

The immense smoke leaped from the grill and violently assaulted every last feature of my face and hands. I was battling the grill, only breaking a squint periodically to replace a smoldering frankfurter. Through the writhing flames, I could see Johnny, in all his expertise, handling the pincers and burgers as if they were mere extensions of his body. Nevertheless, I filled the silver bowl with my pathetic work. When we had finished, Johnny innocently cringed at my doing, as I simultaneously coveted his beautiful burgers. Luke, the event’s initiator and kingpin of the food ministry, stepped out to observe our work and immediately formulated a mirror image of Johnny’s facial expression as he too peered upon my disastrous work. I almost pitied the hot dogs. They reminded me of mummified bodies, or burnt embers of a Birchwood tree. Consequently, all now knew of my lack of ability to grill.

Johnny was summoned to display his hamburgers and my corpses in the gymnasium, so I wandered out into the lot. I approached a large table and, to my surprise, I beheld the pig in all its singed nature. It lay with its tongue protruding out and its poor eyes rolled back into its dead skull. I stared lifeless, still scarred from my culinary mishap. In a way, I likened myself unto the pig, awkwardly lodged into the spit of humility for all to gaze upon and either sympathize or ostracize.

Redemption clasped me on the shoulder and spoke sharply into my ear. I turned and saw a man, obviously a fellow food assistant, which I had never been acquainted with.

"We gotta' carry da’ pig," he briefly spoke as he ran to the opposite side of the spit. In a swift motion, he flung the metal spit out from the bowels of the beast and triumphantly hurled the scrap metal through the air. He seized the animal’s head and fixed his gaze on me in obligation.

It was one of those moments where you needed time to ponder what you were about to do, but I was not given such precious time. I took hold of its hind legs and hoisted toward my upper body. A distinct "pop" sounded. I looked back down upon the body only to see two empty leg sockets. I held the legs in my hands. The man gave a chuckle at the ridiculousness of what had just occurred. I dropped the legs, and wrapped my greasy arms around the pig’s lumbar region, and growled within my soul.

The pig run commenced. We made our way swiftly through fields and corridors. For a moment, I felt as if I was carrying a lacerated comrade through the jungles of merciless warfare, but my fantasy ended abruptly as I was overcome with horrible pain to my fingers and back. I pressed on. I felt the enormous beast slowly slipping through my failing grip. We were almost there. We stumbled into the kitchen, lined up near a table, and dropped the monstrosity upon a feeble picnic table. My pride was restored. Through perseverance and determination, I had survived the great pig run.