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Sun Apr 29, 2012, 04:24 PM

Greased pig “fun” in the gymnasium (except, that is, for the pig)

(Preface: Good afternoon, all y'all. It's been a long time since my last confession, but I thought some of you might enjoy this piece. My high school class 45th reunion is next weekend in Columbus, MS. In honor of that event, I posted the following remembrance on my class Facebook page and on mine. If any of you have ever wondered when I first set foot on my road to ruin, this just might be it.) Peace out. Y'all come.

It was a dark and steamy night in Possum Town, Mississippi, in late May of 1967. I had just finished letting off steam once again with my elfin and energetic girlfriend, Patti, and had headed west toward the neon lights of Bob’s Place to see what was up. Most of the usual suspects were out back, deep into that night’s drinking of beer that Aunt Barbara and BooBoo were happy to sell to us faithful (and underaged) customers, and Spot was happy to keep replenishing. None of my closest friends were there that night. By then, Don was likely passed out somewhere, Bill was likely still letting off his own steam in the cavernous backseat of his family’s stretch Cadillac with his own girlfriend and Larry was already home in bed, as all good First Baptist boys should have been. That left me to join the mischievous bunch who hailed me over to their circle, already deep into planning “something.”

I can’t remember who all was there that night. I do remember Ed and Snuffy, Steve and Rabbit, laughing as they welcomed me into their circle. Our senior year was winding down, our futures were not yet congealed and our time was being spent struggling to remain awake and alert in class before the next round of senior parties, where the parents of our classmates welcomed us into young adulthood, often with an open bar or an iced-down keg. (I remember the party the Benekes hosted where someone broke into that family’s liquor cabinet and handed out bottles to all comers. That particular night, after my first and last bottle of expensive brandy, I was driven home in the backseat of someone’s car, with my pinwheel-spinning head held gently in place on BeBe’s soft lap.)

In any event, the circle of classmates that Friday night had decided, before I arrived, that there was only one thing left for us to do to complete our senior year and that thing was our class “prank”. Some of those pranks were legendary, like our forebears who put an outhouse on
the roof of Lee High or those who led a herd of mules to the second floor of our school’s back building, knowing that you can lead a mule up steps but you cannot lead it down. We knew that the bar was already set very high if we too were to be remembered for our class prank.

I believe it was Ed who suggested that catching a big pig and putting it in the gymnasium would be our claim to fame. Everyone else agreed in short order, someone knew just where we could find the pig and, as for me, well I volunteered to use my Mustang’s trunk to get the pig to
the gym.

We headed out Old West Point Road to a pig farm located across the road from my Uncle Billy’s place, not far from where we’ll congregate next Saturday night at Jimmy’s camp-house. Even as sparsely populated as that country road was (and still is), I am surprised that we didn’t
wake the living and the dead that night laughing and hollering, slipping and sliding around that dark hog wallow as we tried to catch a pig. The combination of beer and pig manure made it hard to stay upright and our laughter mixed loudly with the pig squeals as we grabbed one and then another agitated ham on the hoof, only to have each one struggle free. Finally, we cornered one of the 100+ pound pigs up near the fence and, with several of us holding the fence aloft, handed it to other co-conspirators who put it into my car’s open trunk.

The trip back to town went fast, all of us riding in a short convoy with our windows down to dissipate the barnyard odor that was now smeared all over us. Someone found a way to break into the gym and once the front door was open, the rest of us carried that still-incensed porker to the basketball court and turned it free. All of us -- the pig included -- stood around for several minutes, trying to catch our breaths. Then we dispersed, most heading back to Bob’s where they were not allowed inside, and me to Larry’s nearby house to wake him up. I expected that Larry would be disappointed that he had not been in on the prank (he was) and so the two of us sat on his front porch at midnight, trying to think of some way the two of could enhance the evening.

The enhancements we decided on involved a can of Crisco and a bar of Ex-Lax. The two of us headed back to the gym, caught the pig once again and slathered it from head to toe with that white lard substitute. The bar of Ex-Lax we just left on the gym floor, expecting that the pig would find it soon enough. Then we headed back to Larry’s, where he washed my “mud”-covered clothes so I could return home that night without waking my Dad with the smell of our misdeed.

On Monday morning, the school janitor inadvertently let the pig out of the gym. Thus our morning classes were incidental as all of us watched several overweight members of the Columbus Police Department chase that pig around the school campus, trying unsuccessfully to capture the pig, being covered themselves with Crisco and pig "stuff" for their troubles. One of us should have suggested to Coach Carr that the morning PE classes be allowed to catch the pig, particularly since the gym smelled terrible from the pig’s pharmaceutically-fostered prodigious droppings, some of which had been rubbed into the gym’s cinderblock walls. But before we could, the exhausted officers gave up chasing the pig and prematurely dispatched it to barbeque Heaven.

Coach Carr was in a dither to discover who had been behind this prank. One by one, he cornered the senior boys who had likely been involved (he guessed right in several instances) and insisted to them that he knew they had been among the culprits. One by one, those seniors
denied any involvement, which left Coach Carr to continue his interrogations as he moved down his list of likely pranksters. By late afternoon, he was running out of suspects and so I am sure he was surprised that when he confronted Larry and said (once again) that he knew he had been involved that Larry’s response was “How did you find out?”

Between sixth and seventh period, Larry caught me in the hallway and said that he had been told to report to the principal’s office. He did not want to go alone and since I had gotten him involved, he asked that I go with him and admit my own guilt. That I did and I was surprised that, for a few minutes, Coach Carr refused to believe I had been involved. For some reason, that irritated me (my two shoes weren’t all that goody after all). But when I offered to take Coach Carr to the parking lot to smell my Mustang’s trunk, he finally accepted my confession. In short order, Larry and I were told to assume the position and both of us got three very forceful “licks” with Coach Carr’s paddle. We were told that we would be responsible for paying for the pig, that “pig theft” would be put on my school record and “contributing to pig theft” would go on Larry’s. Then we were dismissed, only to find our co-conspirators waiting for us in the school parking lot, standing around my odiferous Mustang.

The rest of the “Hole in the Fence” gang pleaded with Larry and me to keep their identities secret, Ed because his father was then the school board president and Snuffy because he feared he would lose his football scholarship at Ole Miss. There was no point in revealing anyone else’s involvement, but we told the rest that we expected them to pay for the pig by themselves, since the two of us had absorbed the rest of the punishment. They were happy to do that and none of them questioned why that particular pig was so valuable when Larry and I collected five times the pig’s real cost from them later on.

Coach Carr had told the two of us that our punishment was complete when we left his office. But unbeknownst to him, the Honor Society sponsor (I won’t name names but she was an English teacher who thought it was appropriate to include a question about where her precious son was playing college football on the first pop quiz of our sophomore year) decided that Larry and I should be expelled from the Honor Society and all of our other senior honors should be given instead to other classmates. In addition, she took it upon herself to write both
Vanderbilt and Mississippi State to demand that they reconsider admitting the two of us because of our nefarious deed. (I later served as the Assistant Dean of Admissions at Vandy and got to read my own admission folder that documented her efforts, including a note from
one faculty member on the Vanderbilt admissions committee questioning the teacher’s motives (and sanity) and indicating that I would likely make a colorful – and welcome -- addition to the freshman class.)

So that’s the tale of the greased pig in the gymnasium, whose pungent presence still wafted in the humid air when we graduated in that same gym a week later. At the end of the summer, when our annuals arrived, Larry and I laughed when we saw a photo of Ed at graduation, looking sheepish in his Honor Society draping. The Commercial Dispatch wrote a humorous article about the incident that they published on the front page of our town’s paper. That article was probably the most fun that other Possum Towners had at my expense until – years later – the same paper decided to publish a picture from my second wedding and a two line divorce announcement describing the quick end to that rebound hallucination in the same issue of our hometown paper – two pages apart.

I have joked with Larry about that prank over the years and both of us have enjoyed how many classmates (including females) have taken credit at our class reunions for being involved too. We know better, of course, but until now, we have remained content to keep the identities of our co-conspirators (both real and wannabe) to ourselves. It seems fitting now to break that silence and I hope all y’all have enjoyed this confession.

If you’re interested, grab me at the reunion and ask me about the time Bill and I decided to give a band of Harley-riding Hell’s Angels a place to “crash” at his parents’ mansion on another dark and steamy Possum Town summer night a year later, yet another adventure that I am thankful the two of us lived through so we can still tell the tale.

They say that one of the most serious curses among the Chinese when a person has given offense is to be told “May you live in interesting times.” Believe me, I have looked for that offended Chinese person for decades now, hoping I am not too late with an apology. Look me up at our 50th reunion and I’ll let you know if I’ve ever found her.

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Reply Greased pig “fun” in the gymnasium (except, that is, for the pig) (Original post)
Fly by night Apr 2012 OP
Suich Apr 2012 #1
hootinholler Apr 2012 #2
hootinholler Apr 2012 #3
Ellipsis Apr 2012 #4
Xyzse Apr 2012 #5

Response to Fly by night (Original post)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 06:51 PM

1. Great story, Bernie!

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Response to Fly by night (Original post)

Sun Apr 29, 2012, 07:14 PM

2. It's good to see you Bernie!

How's the garden looking this year?

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Response to Fly by night (Original post)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 11:10 AM

4. Hey Bernie... happy Spring. Good to see you posting.

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Response to Fly by night (Original post)

Mon Apr 30, 2012, 11:26 AM

5. That reminds me of the prank pulled off in my high school

Since it was also close to a farm town, they also used greased pigs to run around the halls.
However, instead of just one, they brought it 4 pigs, and numbered them 1, 2, 4, and 5.

Needless to say, they caught the numbered pigs, but had a hell of a time trying to find number 3.

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