The Dinner Party
In the fall of 2015, I was blessed to attend a weekend workshop on creative play - near Pipestem State Resort in West Virginia.
I'd traveled a few hours and was nearing the destination, when I saw a pig in a pen by the road.
I am often on the lookout for pigs as I travel. This time, I'd seen the pig too late and had to turn around and go back...
Pulling my car into the driveway next to the pig pen, I got out to say "Hi!" I hadn't noticed there was a house right next door. As soon as I was out of the car, a woman opened the door of the house and several dogs came out barking at me. "That pig's not for eating," she yelled.
"Good! I don't eat pigs," I yelled back. The woman joined me and we had a nice chat. Then, I returned to my car and made my way down the road to the retreat.
The next morning, I woke up early and this whole story arrived as a gift. I've never edited it and I didn't do any sketches until 2020 - during Covid. All the images are rough, but heartfelt. Even the photo memory is blurry. I am sharing this story now, because it wants to be shared.
As you will discover, this story has something in common with Beefy Parisian Pig's story. I hope you realize what... as you read "The Dinner Guests."
"The Dinner Guests"
by Amy Jane Williams
Once upon a time, two pigs went to a bar-b-q. But they were not invited guests in the usual sense, sent invitations on pretty paper with an RSVP.
One pig was named Charlotte, although at the time even she herself did not know this. Charlotte was born to a mother. But already she had started to forget her. Pigs are separated early from their mothers. And even though Charlotte had feelings, she had been treated poorly like all pigs. In the same way many people treat broccoli, wheat, and oranges ~ she was treated like an object.
Except Charlotte had a heart and blood and a mother.
Of course, her father was completely absent from Charlotte's memory. As were any siblings she might have had. When she was loaded onto a truck, Charlotte didn't know the other pig traveling with her - in forced confinement.
The other pig seemed nice enough. But the way both pigs were pushed and prodded didn't leave much room for relaxing or getting to know another pig the way you should > by sniffing dandelions and rolling in the mud.
Charlotte and the other pig arrived at a party. A lot of people were already gathered. There was a crackling fire and the loud noises of laughter. Charlotte and her traveling companion were unloaded from a truck and jabbed and pushed to a confined area near a fire.
Charlotte didn't have a good feeling about this.
For awhile she kept her gaze on the grass and a little on her pig companion. But soon she started to look around. People began to come up to her and make funny sounds.
Charlotte would look at them. Then look away. A woman came up. Charlotte looked up and saw her eyes. The woman was looking into Charlotte's eyes. Charlotte could not look away. The woman could not look away either. This woman had looked happy when she first looked at Charlotte. Now she looked sad.
Charlotte felt sad. Had she done something to make this woman sad? She hoped not.
The woman stood there a very long time ~ they kept looking at each other. But pigs aren't the best at telling time, so Charlotte wasn't sure how much time passed.
Eventually the woman walked away looking even sadder. Charlotte was already feeling tense. Now she felt depressed. Where was she? Where was her mother? What next?
Eventually two men came to the area where Charlotte and her companion were sniffing and rooting around. One grabbed the other pig and pushed it away from Charlotte. This caused quite a commotion. People nearby became louder and the other pig started squealing in distress. Charlotte didn't know what to do. She began snorting, but the other man kicked her on the side and pushed her as they drug the pig away. It kept whining and squealing. Charlotte felt sick.
Charlotte was left alone.
The noises quieted down. Maybe everything would be okay.
This calm did not last long. Because then Charlotte heard a loud squeal - so driven by pain and anguish it hurt her to her very heart. She knew it must be the other pig. What happened to them? Were they okay? It didn't sound that way.
Charlotte could not root around, she could not sniff the grass. She felt sick. Very sick. This didn't feel good. A sound that painful couldn't mean anything good.
Time passed. Charlotte didn't know how long, but it started to get dark. Then there she was... the lady who had looked into her eyes before. She didn't know what the woman was saying, but she was talking to her.
Charlotte liked this woman and her sounds. Quickly the woman entered the area where Charlotte was confined. She touched Charlotte. It was a gentle touch. She could feel the difference from the way the man had touched her. Actually there was no way to compare the two touches. They were night and day. The woman scratched her head and under her chin and her belly.
All the stress in Charlotte's body began to melt away. She felt relief. This was the closest to good she could remember since that now very faint memory when she was with her mother.
The woman put her hands under Charlotte's belly and picked her up. Charlotte felt uncomfortable. She was off the ground. This was a new experience. But it was ok. She could feel it.
The woman kept Charlotte in her arms and walked away. A man joined them to help. He seemed different than the men who had pushed Charlotte around and drug the other pig away. He had nice eyes too.
The woman and man stopped at a truck, where the man opened the door so the woman could sit with Charlotte on her lap. The man went to the other side, opened the door and sat down. Soon a loud noise started, and they all drove away together.
This was a long time ago ~ before Charlotte ate donuts, lived in a meadow of flowers and met more new friends... but that's a story for another day.
That night, she rode on the woman's lap until the truck stopped. Then Charlotte heard loud dogs barking. Charlotte had heard this before. Honestly, it scared her.
But the woman held her close and Charlotte felt safe. It was very dark now, and the woman made a little place for Charlotte to lay down. She had never been treated this gently before.
Once upon a time, two pigs went to a bar-b-q. They were not invited guests in the usual sense, sent invitations on pretty paper with an RSVP. They were the dinner ingredients. One ended up being dinner. And one became free and found a home.
Her name was Charlotte. It still is.
Now she knows who she is.
And it's not dinner.
Afterword: The woman I met shared a story of how she had rescued the pig from a bar-b-q. That pig is the Charlotte in this story.
Image Comments: Sometimes what I paint doesn't match the story. In the image of the truck, Charlotte is in the back, not on the woman's lap... my mistake! :)