When I was young enough to not know the different between “family bonding” and “this is not what normal people do bonding,” my dad brought home a large, foul smelling jar. He unveiled it like a magician pulling a bunny out of a hat. “Ha ha!” He cried. My mother was not amused.
What I found on the table between my parents was nothing I could have imagined existing in my world. In the large jar my father had revealed a dead piglet floating around in formaldehyde. I had never seen one (dead or alive, only full grown) in real life before, but I knew they existed in fairy tales and Disney movies. This thing in front of me was no ordinary piglet, though. As I scanned my eyes down its little pink body, I soon thought it was more appropriate for my nightmares rather than the Disney Channel. “Why does it look like that, dad?” This piglet had six legs. In cartoons they only ever had four. Though it had a normal looking head and average looking legs, it split apart halfway through its torso, giving it two sets of back hooves, each with its own little curly tail. It was gross and I thought I could smell it through a little crack at the top of the jar. Around this crack was what looked like dried foam, as if someone had discovered the crack and tried smearing some glue on it to seal it.
All the scary nightmares I doubted the validity of suddenly seemed not too impossible. If something like this can exist, what else is real in the world? I looked at the jar a little more closely now. I tapped on the glass with my finger. The piglet bobbed around lazily in the dim, golden liquid; pieces of (what I can only guess to be) matter from the pig lazily floating around forever with its host.
My dad loved playing pranks, and I soon found out that he got this piglet from my uncle and aunt who owned pigs on a farm. My dad was planning a prank on one of his co-workers. Unfortunately, he never told my sisters and me if the prank had actually gone well when we got home from school the next day, but instead pretended like the pig had never existed. The jar was nowhere to be found.
He didn’t mention anything about it at dinner, either. I could only imagine that my mother had given him an earful and was encouraged not to talk about it in front of impressionable young children.
I was surprised when, after dinner, I went down into the bathroom next to my room in the basement that no one used except my sister and me. This bathroom was the most unchartered in the house–it didn’t have a shower and all the wallpaper and carpet were outdated and old. My sister and I were the only ones to ever use that bathroom. As I turned on the light, I noticed that sitting atop the back of the toilet, patiently awaiting my visit, was the Siamese pig in a jar.
I was completely disgusted that it had somehow made its way there, on the toilet, no less. Why, of all the places in the house did it have to be there? Why was it still in the house? If I were older, I surely would have done something about it. I would have mentioned it to my mother (her being the voice of reason in my household), but I knew if I did, I would get my father in trouble (him being the likely suspect of putting it there to begin with, possibly as a joke for his impressionable daughters). I didn’t say anything.
The next morning the pig still waited for me in the bathroom, greeting me like an ally. “Hello darkness, my old friend…” I sang. Days turned into weeks into months. Nothing was being done about the removal of the pig from the toilet. Surely my parents knew about it but had forgotten about it since they never went downstairs except to go into our rooms.
I started seeing the object not as a dead fetus bobbing around in old formaldehyde, but as mere wallpaper, no longer noticing it when I used the bathroom. When I cleaned the counters and scrubbed the toilet, I made sure to spray glass cleaner on the jar to make it shine a little brighter than the dull gold liquids inside made it out to be.
This went on for a year.
My family was leaving to visit our aunt and uncle one weekend when, as we were walking out the door someone said, “Oh yeah, I think maybe we should return that pig. Don’t you think they want it back?” Un-climactically, someone grabbed it and thus, the year of the pig had ended.
It wasn’t until I had become an adult that I realized how strange the whole thing really was. This summer I was at a baby shower for a friend I’ve had most of my life when I brought up the subject to her: “Do you remember when my family had that dead Siamese pig in a jar on the back of the toilet downstairs at my house growing up?” I asked.
“Unfortunately, I do. That was disgusting and I don’t know why you had it on the back of your toilet. When I used the bathroom I would arch my back so that no part of my body would ever touch it.” She said.
Of course now that I’m older, I wonder why my parents kept that thing in our house for so long, even if it was in a place no one ever went. I guess it just goes to show how human beings can get used to such weird situations.
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