Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Foster By Any Other Name . . .

Our bellies filled with funnel cake and lemonade, we left the Lorah Family Farm Fest that night renewed and rejuvenated--my faith in the goodness of man and womankind restored. Dusk descended as a river of cars poured from the parking-lot grass field. There was one hurdle to overcome, however: we had to cross the road with a rather lethargic, nobody's-gonna-make-me-hurry-no-matter-what pot-bellied pig named Foster.
The rush of cars was exiting as from a rock concert--people all pumped up and eager to get back on the road. While cars flowed from the field, Sheryl and I discussed the necessity of timing the crossing just right. When we spied a lag in the traffic, we'd have to hurry her pig to the other side.
I looked up the road and saw a break in the rush of traffic. "Okay, Sheryl. Let's go!"
Sheryl ran into the middle of the road. She pulled and tugged, but Foster, all dressed up in his shiny purple nylon harness and lead rope, was not going to hurry for her sake, though he didn't realize that the expediency was intended for his own welfare.
Sheryl pulled harder, "Come on, Foster. Hurry up before we all get run over!" Not in the least impressed, Foster turtle-stepped with his right front hoof onto the macadam. Then, slowly, very deliberately, he stepped with his left hind foot.
"COME ON, FOSTER! HURRY UP!" Sheryl pleaded, tugging on the leash.
To my left a car shot into the traffic and headed towards us. We had to get Foster across the road--fast. With no time to spare, I got behind him and pushed his rump as Sheryl pulled his front end. As usual, I rarely have the opportunity to see myself in action the way others do. So, I invariably have to step back and imagine what a passerby must be seeing and, therefore, thinking. Squatted down, legs splayed apart, both hands a mere eighteen inches from the ground and latched onto the ass-end of a pig who, clearly, resented my intrusion, I saw myself as others saw me. Surely onlookers were stifling laughs at a middle-aged woman bent double, huffing and puffing, leaning her full weight into the butt-end of a recalcitrant pig. Together all three of us must've resembled an Abbott and Costello gig. But I had little time to indulge myself with what others were thinking. In the encroaching darkness I had to help move Foster across the road before the car reached us.
When Sheryl saw the approaching car, her eyes widened like Gumby's, and she pulled harder on Foster's leash. But he was not going to speed it up without good reason, and, usually, for a pig, that meant a bribe of a donut or fries.
As the car drew close, I worried the driver would not see the three of us in the deepening twilight. I leaned into Foster even harder. Both Foster and I were grunting: me because I was trying to move his 250 pounds when he clearly wanted to remain static, and Foster out of rebellion against two weak women trying to manipulate him. He was refusing to move, probably more out of pride than anything else--it was a guy thing.
Stuck in the middle of the road with a vehicle approaching us, again Sheryl yanked on the leash. Though we were in a potentially dangerous position, she recognized the humor of the situation, too. We were like the three stooges--whooping, dancing, and behaving like clowns.
Suddenly, in a last ditch effort to get Foster across the road, Sheryl yelled,
That's all I could take. With the image of Foster as Forrest Gump, my legs and arms went weak. I let go Foster's ass and held my guts as I curled up and let out a gigantic belly laugh, the likes of my dear grandma Eckensberger. No matter the car barreling towards us, the image of the pig likened to the slow-witted movie hero being warned to run from danger reduced me to a quivering, giggling lump of jelly.
Finally, Sheryl yanked Foster into the shoulder of the road, and I, laughing and snorting and holding my guts, tripped behind him, the car flying past. The three of us stood in the field, we two yucking it up, with Foster looking on with some annoyance.
Not only was Foster's road crossing an adventure, but it has also resulted in a major change. Today Foster goes by the much more quirky, homespun, and fitting name--Forrest.

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