Today, daughter Jess came home from school all excited. “Hey, dad!” she erupted. “Guess who’s going to get to dissect a baby pig this semester?”
“I assume that’s you, daughter,” I said. “I’ve got just one little piece of advice on that.”
“I know,” Jess said. “Make sure I get a boy pig.”
“And why is that?” I asked.
“Because,” Jess replied, “you’ve already told me that nothing’s more fun than opening up the scrotum and starting a pig-testicle fight while the teacher’s not looking.”
“That’s my girl,” I said. “The teacher won’t notice anything until the fight’s well under way. You want to throw out the first ball, so to speak. I promise, as soon as the first testicle finds its target, every kid with a boy pig will start harvesting ammo and launching it. Best of all, you’ll be able to tell your children that you started the first-ever pigball fight at your school.”
“Will I get in trouble?” Jess asked, a little sheepishly.
“Probably, but it’ll be worth it.”
As soon as those words left my lips, it occurred to me that things have changed a lot since I threw the first pigball at LBC High School down in South Carolina. For instance, my teacher, Mrs. Hutto, was out in the courtyard smoking a cigarette when I pitched the translucent, pea-sized gonad at Kathy Hearn. Teachers don’t take smoke breaks anymore. These days, there’s no escaping their relentless gaze.
Besides that, schools have a lot of zero-tolerance policies now. If daughter Jess throws a pigball, she might get kicked out of school or get hauled down to juvenile court. We Jowerses might end up with a social worker meddling in our business full-time. With that in mind, I turned to Jess and said, “OK, I’m not so sure it’ll be worth the trouble. Maybe you should try to talk one of the boys into starting the pigball fight. Or, if you’re determined to start it yourself, make it look like an accident. Tell the teacher it just flew off your scalpel. Act embarrassed.”
“That’ll take all the fun out of it,” Jess replied.
“OK,” I said. “Try this: Talk the teacher into letting y’all dissect some pregnant cats.”
“Eeeww,” Jess whined. “Why would I want to do that?”
“Because there’s a lot of mischief potential in dissecting cats, especially pregnant ones. Mrs. Hutto ordered everything pregnantpregnant cats, pregnant sharks. She even got frogs that were full of eggs. She said we got more for our money that way and learned a little more biology.”
“I’m afraid to ask,” Jess said, “but what did you do with the cats?”
“I’m semi-ashamed to admit it,” I said, “but I put a few kittens into some teachers’ desks. Right on top of their roll books, so as soon as the teacher reached into her desk drawer, she’d grab hold of a pickled kitty. Those grouchy old women jumped up and down and squealed like Ned Beatty in Deliverance. It was funny at first, but I started feeling guilty when some of the teachers cried.”
“Didn’t they kick you out of school?” Jess asked.
“Nope. Nobody saw me plant the kitties. They were easy to conceal. I could hide ’em in my palm. I did get suspended from school eventually, but it was on an unrelated matter.”
“I am not going to do anything mean with poor little not-alive kittens,” Jess said. “Kittens are cute. And sweet.”
“Not those biology kittens,” I said. “They’re rock-hard and don’t have any personality at all.” Just then, Jess balled up her fist and smacked me on my biceps. I ignored the pain and continued with the biology lesson.
“If you don’t want to dissect cute furry things, ask the teacher to get y’all some frogs. Tell her you want the big ones, about the size of a Pomeranian.”
“Did you dissect a frog?” Jess asked.
“I dissected all the frogs. Mrs. Hutto told us that if we wanted a good grade, we had to get our frog brain out undamaged. I developed a technique for cracking frog skulls in one lick. It was like shucking shrimp. Every time Hutto would go out for a smoke, I’d cleanly remove a half-dozen frog brains. Thanks to me, every kid in my biology class got an 'A’ in frog brain.”
“Dang, dad,” Jess said. “You should’ve been a brain surgeon.”
“Well, at the time, I thought anybody could be a brain surgeon, but it took somebody really special to play guitar.”
“But you’ve told me yourself, there are thirteen-hundred-and-fifty-two guitar pickers, just in Nashville.”
“That was 30 years ago,” I sighed. “These days, there are more than that in Sylvan Park alone.”
“Is it too late for you to go to medical school?” Jess asked.
“Theoretically, no,” I replied. “But I’m afraid that I haven’t outgrown my mischievous streak. I’d take the lab chimps downtown to a strip club and get ’em lap-danced, then turn ’em loose in the Opryland Hotel. That’s a career-killer if you’re a doctor.”
“You should’ve stuck with guitar playing,” Jess said.
She’s probably right.