The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

SWINE ALERT!: This may surprise you; I know it certainly surprised me, but that’s not too hard to do anymore, what with age creeping up on me; but here in our happy little burg there are ordinances forbidding the citizenry from keeping pigs in their homes for either personal or commercial reasons. The municipal solons also forbid the keeping of cattle, sheep, goats, or emus within the city limits. Somehow or other rabbits, and chickens managed to escape the mass proscription, as did dogs, cats, freshwater aquarium fish, and paranoid schizophrenics. The ban on pigs, however is almost Levitical in its intensity, coming to almost three and a half pages in the city code, those three and a half pages banning almost every possible situation that one might actually have a need for a pig from occurring within the city limits. The only time a pig may show its face here in our happy little burg is if it is on its way to the meat display case at the local supermarket; all other pigs are officially unwelcome here.

Why the local lawmakers despise pigs to this fanatical degree is something of a mystery here; there are no Muslims or Seventh Day Adventists on the city council that I am aware of, and the one Jewish member of the council is an affable sort who does not keep kosher and violates the Sabbath on a fairly regular basis. So, religion does not explain the animus and neither, I fear, does history. After detailed historical research into the subject, I can safely say that pig husbandry was never a significant part of the local economy. Unlike such places as Cincinnati, Ohio, and Secaucus, New Jersey, no stoic pigboys armed with Colt .45 six-shooters and Winchester repeating rifles ever drove a recalcitrant herd of swine through fire and flood, blizzards and Indian attacks to bring the herd into the local train station and send them on to the Chicago slaughterhouses.

The effects of the law, however, are apparent to everyone who visits our happy little burg. There is not a single living pig anywhere within the city limits. On occasion, of course, one finds the dunderheaded miscreant who does not care about the ban, who snaps his pathetic fingers at such plebian concepts as the rule of law, and tries to use the more remote parts of our town as a base for illegal swine herding. The ingenuity of these criminals knows no bounds; in life, avarice, like necessity, is all too often the mother of invention, but one criminal’s attempt to pass off a Vietnamese potbellied pig at a police DWI checkpoint as the mayor of the slough of urban despond directly across the river from us stretched the bounds of even a civil servant’s credulity.

The scoundrel did not succeed, of course, which goes almost without saying, I think. Our local constabulary has an unbroken record of success in enforcing the pig proscription, and pork pushers and dealers in illegal sausages know better than to try to establish their nefarious businesses here; if so much as one squeal, grunt, or oink is heard anywhere within the city limits, the crack detectives of the Pig Crimes Squad are on the case, leaving no truffle unexamined in their hunt for the illegal swine and then put the swineherds out of business for good. With such an enviable record against the dastardly forces of the underworld, the local constabulary could sit back and enjoy the plaudits of those they protect and serve, to slack off and take it easy, and who would blame them? But they do not, knowing that even a moment’s inattention to their duty, any lessening of their vigilance, and the pigs would be crowding honest citizens off the sidewalks into the streets.

It is because eternal vigilance is the price we as citizens must pay if we are to remain free of the porcine menace that certain other ordinances must receive short shrift, like the one that requires motorists to stop when there is a pedestrian in the crosswalk. This law is not so much disobeyed in our happy little burg as it is largely unheard of, even with the signs that clearly state that motorists must stop, a phenomenon I noticed only a few days ago when a gentleman tried to run me down in the crosswalk while I was returning from the deli with my ham sandwich, pretzels, and Diet Coke. I was already in the crosswalk when this gentleman zoomed through a four way stop sign a block away from the traffic light and bore down swiftly upon me. Convinced that he obviously was either dyslexic or color-blind, I immediately scurried out of his way, and at my age, scurrying is a lot harder to do then it used to be. As he passed, the gentleman shouted something about my ancestry. I immediately pointed to the sign telling motorists to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk and countered his gratuitous point about my ancestry by pointing out that I could identify my father and could do so without requiring all the men in my neighborhood to submit to DNA testing.

This situation could have gone from bad to worse; these situations almost always go from bad to worse—it is the rare occasion where things go from bad to better, but this was the case here, what with the fortuitous arrival of one of our local constables, who immediately separated us and spent an hour and a half questioning me about the provenance of the ham in my sandwich. After reassuring him that the ham was not the vile product of some local den of illicit piggery, the constable told me to be more careful as I crossed the street and told the gentleman who tried to run me down to take note of the traffic signs; the city put them up for his protection as well as that of the foot-borne traffic. Properly contrite, the gentleman promised to obey the traffic ordinances and the signs that informed the public of these ordinances, and the officer released us both with a warning and an admonition to say no to illegal pigs.

I saw this self-same gentleman the next day, when he came perilously close to running down some senior citizens in the exact same crosswalk. This time, however, there were no gendarmes nearby. On a tip from a confidential informant, and on the basis of a two months investigation, most of the on-duty members of the police department were off raiding the home of a local high school music teacher, coming away from the raid with two porkers the teacher kept as pets. The police led the teacher away in handcuffs and let the poor man pull his jacket up over his head in order to hide his shame. I saw this disgusting perp walk on the local cable news, and then a short interview with the chief of police, sounding appropriately grave, who informed a relieved public that vigorous enforcement of the ban on pigs was one of the hallmarks of his administration of the police department and that as long as he headed the department the ban would enforced to the absolute letter of the law, unlike, of course, the law against nepotism in the ranks of the police department, which his otherwise unemployable niece is challenging in court even as we speak.

In any case, this leads one to suspect that the only way the pedestrians of our happy little burg will get any attention from the local gendarmerie is to disguise themselves as some breed of swine, preferably domestic swine, a Chester White or American Hereford, for example, before crossing the city streets. This stratagem may not work for everyone, given the paucity of pig costumes hereabouts, but wherever there is a demand for a product or a service, the free market will draw suppliers to that demand like straight guys to a hot blonde. This, I think, but I will admit to a certain bias here, is one of the many wonderful things about the American way of life.


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