Meeting Porky Pig as a child might have contributed to my belief tv was real. Mom managed a grocery store belonging to a local chain. Before I started Kindergarten, she had to bring me to her office. She parked me in front of a tv and forgot I was there.
One day, I decided I wanted a snack. I wandered downstairs to find some food. Normally, I chose something at the bakery and Mom paid later.
This day, Porky Pig approached me. I was surprised I ran into Porky, you wouldn’t think he had time to shop before he needed to be in front of a Tv Camera. Obviously, our town didn’t have any Tv Cameras, I never saw our town on tv.
** I thought things on tv existed in real life. Tv Cameras filmed the places fun to watch. I also believed the same thing about music with a slight twist. Singers were held hostage and forced to sing on command. Because who would want to spend their entire lives singing non-stop so everyone else could listen anytime they want. I imagined them tied to chairs with microphones hanging in front of them in an otherwise empty room. When someone wanted to hear them on the radio, a red light turned on. They would sing or be in trouble. **
I was really surprised when Porky knew my name. When he told me hi, I said “Hi, Porky!” I wanted him to know I knew his name too. I was really nervous. I loved Looney Tunes, I wanted Porky to be my friend.
I tried to be very nice, I wanted to compliment him, but what compliment does a pig want to hear? I knew pigs were fat. I knew I had heard people say ‘cameras add 10 pounds.’ I told Porky he was just as fat up close and I loved how he was more red than pink.
I can’t really remember his facial expressions I was pretty young when this happened. I do remember thinking he must have misunderstood my compliment when he didn’t respond.
I thought I needed to speak more clearly. Louder, I said: “You’re really fat”.
He still didn’t respond. Maybe I should ask him a question so he has to help with all this talking.
I asked, “How did you get so fat? Why are you red now?”
I noticed other people were watching. I worried Porky would talk to them instead. That’s when Mom found me. Porky left as I feared he would. I had blown it, he wasn’t going to be my friend.
Mom spoke to the lady who was fixing my food. When she turned back to face me, I saw the worst look on her face. It was the face that meant we would be walking on eggshells for the rest of the day. Maybe the whole week. I wondered what set her off this time.
It turns out, that wasn’t Porky Pig, it was her boss! Can you believe that? Apparently, I had insulted him. People are sensitive about their weight and skin pigment. The only consequence Mom suffered was embarrassment. Porky was a nice guy. I suffered a good deal more.
She told me cartoons weren’t real. I would never meet one. I told her she was just being mean because I made a mistake. I knew they were real because I had seen pictures from Disney World. She couldn’t fool me. I promised to be more careful next time.
Her assistant manager came to take me away. He told me everything would be fine once she had a minute to calm down. He didn’t know her very well. Regardless, he was willing to get me a reprieve and I was grateful.
He told me I should sing her a song to tell her I’m sorry. Mommies loved songs and it would make everything all better. I hadn’t yet learned I sing worse than a cat, so I was happy to try.
To his credit, I have to admit he told me to wait until we were alone in her office before I sang it. It was the first thing he said. Which is probably why I forgot.
When I finally had it memorized, I couldn’t wait to share it. I ran toward the office. Mom was already doing the grocery shopping. I ran right up to her and began belting my song like only an ignorant child can.
“Bust my britches, and bless my soul! I see a walking tootsie roll!”
I thought Mom’s eyes were growing wide with happy surprise, not anger. That moment was the one time in my life I can claim I was beaten.
I had no idea why she was slapping me. At first I thought I didn’t sing it well. The fact that it could be a highly offensive racist slur was as lost on me as quantum physics.
As a store full of angry spectators watched Mom pummel me, the assistant manager finally caught up to us. He jumped between us telling her (and subsequently the entire store) it was his fault.
Mom left her buggy where it sat, grabbed two packs of steaks, and walked out. I ran behind her, per routine. She never spoke of it again.