Housatonic — Years ago, I won a grant to study the works of William Faulkner on his home ground: Mississippi. As part of the experience, all of us in the seminar were encouraged to explore the surrounding, storied territory.
To that end, three of us–Brian from Kansas, Trevor from New Zealand and I–piled into the F250 and headed out from Hattiesburg to find out what was up in the deep South.
We didn’t see much worth talking about until we popped out of the wilderness in Gulfport and saw a banner touting a Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo just ahead. The imagined optics alone, maybe cowpokes riding bucking dolphins or lassoing sharks, seemed must-see stuff.
The “rodeo” was a bummer, an acre-sized tent full of ice tables covered with fish, nothing more than an amped-up fishing derby. But the show’s midway–featuring the world’s largest, nastiest pig and the world’s smallest horse–was more promising. While Trevor went off to buy a foot-long corn dog, and Brian went to a photo gallery featuring images of people who’d been bitten by poisonous snakes, I paid a buck to a guy with greasy jeans and went to visit the world’s largest pig and the world’s smallest horse.
Cooled by a box fan, a blue-splotched hog the size of a sofa lay panting on a mound of straw. A sign above the beast warned “dangerous pig.” Tethered to a post a few feet away stood a discouraged looking, police-dog-sized, bug-eyed pony.
I asked the greasy guy if he was certain this was the largest pig on earth.
“Naw, I got one even bigger back home.”
Was he dangerous?
“Naw, that’s bullshit. But ain’t it funny?”
The smallest horse?
“He’s pretty small. Him and the pig here are best buddies.”
A second-rate, harmless porker who’s best friends with a pop-eyed, runt horse?
I might have felt cheated if the whole thing hadn’t been so utterly surreal.
Outside I told the guys what I’d seen but Brian, who pretended to be grossed-out, only wanted to talk about the deleterious effects of venom on human extremities. Busy with his corn dog, Trevor just shrugged.