Three-part series: In its entirety
When boredom strikes
Hedgepig was a bored Asheville pig.
He was tired of the same ol’ organic hay and the same ol’ expensive dill and carrot cookie treats. He was tired of his fancy chew toys.
Hedgepig wanted excitement. He wanted to see the world. He wanted to be a free-range pig.
He’d read about pigs making news. Pigs on Broadway, astronaut pigs, celebrated chef pigs; these are the pigs he wanted to meet.
He’d spent his young life looking at the same four walls of his customized, modernized, sleek, haute couture, Guinea pig cage. He needed be out there with the pigs movin’ and shakin.’ He wanted to meet these pigs on Broadway and in space. You know, meet the pigs making a difference.
So, as much he loved his family, he opened his Barbie suitcase and filled it with organic dill and carrot cookie treats.
He bade farewell to his best friend, a chocolate lab, Midge, who honestly didn’t notice when Hedgepig began sobbing his “Goodbyes.”
With a dream in his heart
Outside in the drizzly North Carolina rain, Hedgepig wiped the tears from his eyes as he waited for his cab.
Would he see his best friend Midge ever again?
In truth, Midge found Hedgepig annoying.
That Hedgepig considered Midge his best friend would have shocked Midge. Midge wasn’t aware Hedgepig had left. She was napping soundly in her kennel.
Being noticed was a problem for Hedgepig given his small stature. It took about an hour before the cab driver spotted Hedgepig standing on the side of the road.
Luckily, Hedgepig’s umbrella was neon pink with orange flowers. Otherwise, the driver probably would have missed the five-and-three-quarter-inch-tall pig shivering in the rain.
The driver helped Hedgepig into the backseat of the cab. The pig dried himself as best he could.
“Where to Pig?” asked the cab driver harshly.
“The THEEE-a-Tahhhh,” answered Hedgepig, stretching the word like a rubberband.
“Excuse me?” said the cabbie.
“Driver, take me to the stage, my future awaits,” said Hedgepig, sounding more like a Shakespearean pig than a Blue Ridge pig.
“Do you mean the theater?” asked the cabbie.
“Yes, my fine man, take me to Broadway,” answered Hedgepig.
“Well, there are two theatres on Biltmore Avenue. I could take you to the Diana Wortham Center for the Performing Arts,” said the cab driver scratching his head.
Hedgepig, trying to shake the water from his ear, only heard ‘performing arts’ and assumed the driver was taking him to the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts in New York City.
“Yes, yes thank you,” said Hedgepig rather impatiently and rudely.
Having that settled, this free-range pig took an organic dill and carrot cookie from his Barbie suitcase. He snuggled into the crease of the cab’s backseat and nibbled. He drifted to sleep, thinking he had a long drive ahead. The warm and dry cab, along with his full tummy, plus the pattering of the rain, put Hedgepig into a deep sleep.
He was startled awake when the cab came to an abrupt stop.
“Here ya go,” said the cab driver. “The theatre is across the street.”
The cabbie lifted Hedgepig from the backseat and set his small, pink suitcase on the sidewalk.
Hedgepig was immediately overwhelmed by the noise of the city and the smells; the SMELLS. He smelled smells he’d never smelled before. It was wonderful.
The pig handed the cabbie two small cookies from his suitcase as payment.
“Is this all you got?” the driver asked with some annoyance.
“Isn’t that enough?” asked Hedgepig busily pulling his heavy suitcase closer.
The innocent, concentrated expression on the pig’s face as he tugged at the tiny, plastic luggage, left the cab driver without words. Hedgepig was quite possibly the cutest living creature in all the Blue Ridge Mountains.
“It’s enough,” said the cab driver. “You take care of yourself out here Pig. Downtown is a dangerous place for a little guy like you,” he added. With some hesitation, the cab driver drove away, leaving the small pig alone in the center of the city.
Making it big in the big city
Hedgepig looked around. Across the busy street he faced two large theatre marquees, brightly lit. Because he was pig with poor eyesight and without schooling, he misread “Wortham” to mean “Lincoln Center for Performing Arts” and “Fine Arts” to mean “Broadway.” Hedgepig believed himself to be in the heart of New York City’s theatre district.
He took a deep breath. He studied the traffic racing in front of him. He hadn’t anticipated everything being so large and noisy.
How does a very small pig, only five-and-three-quarter-inches tall, with a Barbie suitcase and pink umbrella cross a busy city street?
Hedgepig started to hyperventilate looking at the bustling downtown. He took another bite of an organic carrot and dill cookie for courage. Chewing calmed the Pig.
Wiping the crumbs from his whiskers and holding his breath, he zipped forward off the curb. ZIP! ZIP! Without realizing, he squeezed his eyes tightly shut, rendering himself totally blind, as opposed to partially blind. Then, when he felt the heat of a car’s exhaust, he zagged backwards. ZAG! ZAG! The wind from a speeding truck lifted his whiskers. For a moment, his tiny body elevated like a hovercraft. He spun 360 degrees.
Just when he thought all was lost, Hedgepig caught the faint aroma of fresh spinach. A delivery driver was unloading organic spinach nearby. Hedgepig, eyes still shut, gripping his Barbie suitcase like a life preserver, he followed the scent.
When he opened his eyes, he was on the opposite side of the street. Hedgepig nearly fainted. Dizzy, he slowly lifted his head to the brilliantly-lit marquee. The letters meant nothing to him, because he was a pig with poor eyesight and without schooling. He imagined, however, the marquee to read, “Liza and Hedgepig: One night only.”
Lines of schoolchildren were stepping off a school bus and walking into the theatre.
Seeing a door propped open to the entrance, Hedgepig scurried unnoticed among the confusion of the children and teachers heading to an afternoon matinee.
Dodging the movement of hundreds of feet, Hedgepig sought to remove himself from the fray. Somehow, he managed to reach the dressing rooms in the back of the theatre.
While the stage called to him, like it does any brilliant actor, the small pig was unnerved by the chaos of an impending performance.
He found a quiet corner and collected himself. Pulling another cookie from his Barbie suitcase, Hedgepig chewed rapidly. Chewing calmed the pig.
After a few deep breaths, Hedgepig pulled himself together and walked into the nearest dressing room.
He quietly watched an actress apply makeup in a mirror. The actress jumped when she noticed Hedgepig from the corner of her eye.
“Who are YOU?” she asked.
“I’m Hedgepig,” answered Hedgepig.
“I’m a thespian,” he added nervously, in his smallest pig voice.
“What’s your scene pig?” Asked the actress, while adjusting her wig.
“I’ve prepared a scene from Hamlet” replied the pig. “Act Three: Scene: One,” he added, feeling a bit more important now.
“Do you have any make up, wigs, props?” She inquired, while looking him up-and-down… and sideways, because Hedgepig was rather wide.
“No,” answered Hedgepig, sheepishly, feeling less important now.
“Weeeelllll, luckeeeee for YOU,” said the actress, pronouncing each sound dramatically and loudly, “I once knew a pig who acted.”
“He was really quite talented,” she continued. “Sadly, he was performing a number in Cats, when another character pounced at him. He panicked, his instincts took hold, and he jumped into the orchestra pit to avoid what looked like 200-pound cat. Landed on the kettle drum, didn’t know what hit him.”
She wiped a tear from her eye, gave herself a shake to regain her composure and reached into a drawer. She pulled out the tiniest blonde wig Hedgepig had ever seen.
“Here,” she said, shoving the wig into Hedgepig’s small hand. “And, you will need some eyeliner, lipstick and rouge,” she continued, while grabbing the Pig and placing him in front of her lighted mirror.
Now, Hedgepig only knew Shakespeare’s play, “Hamlet,” from a long-ago rerun of the Muppets. Specifically, he remembered the line, “Hamlet, that’s what my mom called me when I was just a little porker.”
He began to have second thoughts, butterflies in his tummy. “What if he couldn’t perform? What if he wasn’t meant to be an ACT-ORR after all?”
Before he had the time to reconsider, Hedgepig found himself on stage with the curtain rising. He looked out at the audience of eager, field-tripping children. In the moment, however, when the lights shined brightly into his little rodent eyes, he realized his destiny.
To eat, or not to eat your vegetables, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler to try the broccoli and suffer
The slings and arrows of spinach stuck to your chin,
Or to take arms against peas in butter
And thereby squishing them. Try some cherry pie with ice cream—instead,
No more vedge; and by and by fall asleep in bedBased on Hamlet: Act Three: Scene One
When he finished, there was silence in the theatre and, then, an eruption of applause.
“Bravo! Bravo!” he heard as he took his first bow.
Guinea pigs have poor eyesight. They have excellent noses, but poor eyesight. While Hedgepig was convinced he’d given a Tony-award-winning performance, in reality, he had been delivering his soliloquy far to the left of the stage, facing a row of empty seats. In fact, no one in the audience noticed the small five-and-three-quarter-inch-tall pig, wearing a tiny blonde wig.
It really didn’t matter. Hedgepig left the stage feeling as if he had finally found his true calling. He grabbed his Barbie suitcase, now with only a single carrot and dill cookie left, and headed outside, still wearing the wig. He was lost in dreams of future stardom.
How should he sign autographs? Should he use wide swirls and a heart-shaped dot over the letter “I”?
Would he buy a second home in the Hamptons? Or, was this too pretentious? Maybe just a small place Upstate for the sake of appearances? He’d need an agent. How does a pig contact William-Morris? His agent could figure that out, but he’d need an agent to write the letter to find the agent. His head began to spin.
Lost in his dizzying plans for his famous future, Hedgepig didn’t hear the cries of “Hedgepig? Hedgepig! HEDGEPIG! Is that you? What are you doing downtown? Why are you wearing a wig? Is that a Barbie suitcase?”
Hedgepig’s family had come downtown for lunch. Without time for an explanation, Hedgepig was quickly scooped up, wig and all, then, smothered in kisses, cuddles and lots of pig love.
During the ride home, curled in the lap of one of his people, he heard a radio news report of an impending lunar eclipse. This, obviously, got Hedgepig thinking about space pigs and pigs on the moon.
Back at home, he fell asleep dreaming of small moon boots and floating in space, safely tucked in his customized, modernized, sleek, haute couture, Guinea pig cage.