By Heather Ross

To Read:  2 Peter 2:22

Once upon a time lived a young piglet named Wazoo.  Wazoo loved spring!  In spring, the birds returned from their far-off travels.  The wind whispered into the evening, as showers cascaded about the earth.  Rushing torrents of melting snow descended from the hilltops, forming their own delightful path, washing away soil and—Wazoo’s favorite part—mud!

On days like this, mud filled the barnyard and Wazoo delighted in wallowing in it.  How he loved to bask in the squishy brown stuff!

But then, one day, he met Juanita.  Juanita, the 12-year-old daughter of farmer Jose.  Juanita, who had just hatched a brilliant idea.

“Daddy, I’ve been watching Wazoo,” the girl told her father one day as he came onto the front porch and began taking off his muddy boots.

“That piglet!  He sure does love mud, doesn’t he?”

“Mmmm-hmmmm,” Juanita returned.  “But I think…I’m pretty sure that…”

The girl dug her toe into the tile floor, hesitating, not sure how her father would respond.

“What is it, Juany?”  (That was his pet name for his little girl.)

“What if I brought Wazoo inside the barn—into a clean pen—and washed him really well?  He’s a very lovely animal, really—that’s what Selinda says— and she shows her hogs at the county fair.  So, maybe, since we have a few months, maybe we could get Wazoo accustomed to more sanitary surroundings and—and I could show him, like Selinda does, at the fair this year.”

“You’ve really been thinking about this, haven’t you?” asked her father.

“Please, Dad, I’d be sure to take care of everything,” said Juanita.

“Well, I don’t know.  It’s a lot of work,” her dad hesitated.

“I could do it!” Juanita affirmed.

“It’s just that Wazoo’s a pig,” her dad said.  “He loves the mud and dirt and grime.  He doesn’t really think the way we do.  In fact, a hog would just as soon soak in a mud puddle on a hot August day—and that’s when the fair is.”

“So you don’t think I could keep him clean?”  Juanita wondered.  “Or just get him used to the idea?”

“Like I said, he’s a pig.  That’s just not how pigs are made.”

“I can just imagine him walking around,” Juanita persisted.  “I could maybe even put some clothes on him…scrub him.  You might be surprised.  Please, Dad?”

“How long do you expect Wazoo to stay clean?”

“Well, I was hoping we could move him to the dog kennel in the backyard and maybe bring him inside sometimes—you know, after he’s gotten used to the clean idea of his new lifestyle.”

“That’s not gonna happen.”

“But I can train him—I’m pretty sure.”

“I will agree to your showing him at the fair, as long as I can see in this next month that you feed and water him properly.”

“And after that?”

“I’ll let you decide.”

“Really?”

“Yep.  Your choice.”

“Thanks, Dad!  You’re the best.”

The Next Morning

The next morning, Wazoo was awakened by a dreadful crashing and clanging.  Cranking his neck to the left, he noticed a tall girl with willowy legs banging a bucket against his trough.

“What a messy pig you are!” exclaimed the girl with the long black braids.  “But that’s going to change.  You just wait and see.”

Every day Wazoo’s routine became more and more shaped by Juanita’s dream for him.

Fresh sawdust shavings became his new scratchy bed.  Previously, Wazoo had loved taking barnyard walks in the spring rain, which, the older hogs told him would turn to powerful storms of summer.

“The best days,” snorted the senior sow Sally, “is when summer’s hot, steamy weather is absorbed by mud puddles. Deeeelightfull!”  Sally stated enthusiastically.

But now?  Juanita was sheltering him from the most delightful place on earth—a puddle of mud.

She scolded him if he even looked twice.

His home had to be tidy and neat—the opposite of what he wanted.

How long would this misery last?

Wazoo stared with longing at the dirty manes on the horses.

He drooled at the clods of mud stuck to the cow’s black hair.

And he compared his own perfectly manicured curly tail to the farm dog’s grimy one.

When would he be able to enjoy that lovely mud hole again?

As Summer Passed

As the days of summer (a sanitary summer at that) began to drag on miserably, Wazoo contrived a plan.

He would enact it with the first sprinkling against the metal roof of the barn, when summer’s thunder showers threatened and the air began to take on that particularly humid scent.  As the shadows grew longer inside the long barn . . . while the sky turned grey and people (including Juanita) sheltered indoors . . . he would go hog wild.  Hog.  Wild.  That was his plan.

Day after day, the bright sun shone for hours.

On these brilliant afternoons, Wazoo endured sunglasses perched on his snout and ribbons tied in his tail.

“Doesn’t that look perty?” Juanita admired him in early July, just before the evening chores, after she had joyfully applied red, white, and blue nail polish to the pig’s large toenails.

Wazoo snorted and pawed the ground.

Outside, hens fluttered happily in the free open air.

Piglets snorted joyfully as flies raced around their dancing tails.

Calves brayed and whinnied, scampering across the green earth.

But Wazoo?  His halter feeling ever more like a noose, he jerked repeatedly as Juanita stooped down, gingerly attaching a leash and nudging him forward.  Wazoo’s escape plan faded into the distance as one hot summer day followed another.  The grass, once a thriving green, became dry and brown.   It seemed those long, refreshing rains of his dreams would never come!

The end of the long poplar stick had become smooth, as day after day, Juanita used it to goad him.

“Turn right,” she’d say.  “Good piggie!”

“Turn left,” she’d continue walking about the farm property, as if he were hers to control!

The carrots she gave him were tasty.

The apples delivered a perfect crunch.

But what Wazoo longed for was pig slop that dripped and dribbled all the way down his snout, the kind of stinky slosh that humans complained of and said was only “fit for the hogs.”

Clearly, his ideals were not Juanita’s.

“We have just three more weeks!” Juanita told Wazoo one day.

And then the dreaded life of “clean pig” would be over?  Wazoo wondered, entertaining a hazy notion in the back of his pig brain that yes—soon—liberty would again be his.

That evening, as Wazoo lay in his starched-fresh pen, a diffuser of peppermint oil in the corner, breathing out minty air, he dreamed of freedom.  Envisioning a time when he could slip and slide in sloppy mud to his heart’s content, Wazoo’s snout began to quaver as a smile began to play about his snout and a tear formed in the corner of his right eye.  Suddenly, Wazoo awoke with a start.

At Last

Rain!

Yes, the unmistakable plummet of water droplets on the metal roof perked up his ear.

“Chink, plink, chink, plink—”

Rain!

Oh, the delightful shower—it would cascade through the barnyard, soak into the dry earth, fill the parched soil, and bring a torrent of mud by morning.

Rain!

Steady breaths emerged from Cosmo the Cow, in the pen next door.

Katy Kitten shifted positions on her bed of alfalfa hay.

Granny Goose emitted a hoarse cough but continued snoozing.

Rain!

Oh, the moment of reckoning had come!  No more would Wazoo stand for this cleaned-up version of his former self.  Forsaking any reason that would keep him slumbering with the rest of the barn’s inhabitants, Wazoo bolted upright, placed his colorful toenails on the fence of his pen, and somersaulted onto the soft hay, barely missing Katy kitten’s outstretched claw.

He’d done it!  The somersault he’d practiced alone in the saw dust had worked!

“Plink, plunk, grrrr”—the rain drops had grown larger now, and thunder threatened low.

But nothing could stop Wazoo.

The barn door’s cracked opening had grown larger since the spring days, but Wazoo?  His pig belly had grown frustratedly larger.

What had seemed a gigantic crevice in the two wood panels of the barn door looked more like a sliver than an opening.  What now?

How could he escape into the glorious, raining, puddle-forming out-of-doors?

He may just have to wait until morning, when the humans entered the barn for morning chores.

Wazoo snored drowsily, his dreams filling with images of Juany’s chagrined look when she saw his once tidy form hideously covered in mud.  But to Wazoo, this life was unsustainable, and he figured Juanita might as well learn that sooner, rather than later.

Clanking buckets signaled Farmer Jose’s arrival.

Two kittens scampered across Wazoo’s heaving stomach, startling him awake.

Wazoo rose suddenly, pawing at the straw below him.  Then he backed up two feet, preparing for his escape.

There!  Farmer Jose had arrived at the door.  Singing merrily, his attention diverted by the cute grey kitten, Farmer Jose sent the wooden doors cascading down the metal track.

“Whoa!” a startled Farmer Jose cried as the course white hair of a moving pig body rushed toward him.

“Whoa! “he yelled again as one toe-nail polished foot came down hard upon his leather boot.

“Whoa!” he shouted a third time, as Wazoo plowed into him, sending him sprawling on the slippery earth.

“That pig!” exclaimed the farmer, picking himself up from the muddied earth and brushing his hands on a clean part of the top of his overalls.  “Wait till Juanita sees him now!”

“Split, splat, split, splat,” the staccato of Cosmo’s milk in the bucket underneath Farmer Jose reminded him of the rain outside.  And of Wazoo’s escape.

“What will Juanita say?” the farmer shook his head in dismay.

The smell of sizzling bacon and eggs greeted Farmer Jose as he entered the cheery farm kitchen.

“Just one more week!” squealed Juanita to her father, as she helped him pour the bucket of Cosmo’s milk through the strainer on the porch of their farm home.

“About that—” began Farmer Jose, looking directly into his daughter’s chocolate brown eyes.

“Your—pig—Wazoo—he—he raced outside today.  I think—you’ll probably find him in some mud puddle.”

“No!!!” wailed Juanita.  “Just when he was getting so good at being clean!  Oh, his toenails are probably peeling—and his hair was just becoming silky and smooth! Just one more week—he almost made it!” the girl lamented.  “Almost!”

“You’re welcome to fetch him, bring him in, tidy him up again.  After all, the fair’s just one week away,” her father consoled.  “And it’s amazing what a little soap and water can do!”

“Oh, I thought he was changing!  I was sure he didn’t even like that nasty old barn anymore.  I was even hoping he could sleep in the house tonight—just because…and now—oh, his pretty toenails!  And his perfectly curled pig tail!!”

“I told you, Juanita, he’s a hog at heart,” her dad said, sitting down to breakfast.

“Yes, you did.  I guess—I just hoped Wazoo was finally realizing the positive side of staying clean.  I really thought it would work.  And I had so many plans for him! I was thinking he could move into the dog kennel tomorrow, so he’d get used to one of those saw-dust filled pens at the county fair.”

“Well, like you said—you have one more week!”

Three Hours Later

Three miserable and mud-soaked hours later, Juanita found Wazoo basking in a large brown puddle on the farthest side of their farm’s property.

Pulling him homeward with earth-drenched rope and halter, the girl’s boots fell off three times in the deep mud and she had to yank them out, muddying herself so much that she was covered from head to toe when she arrived back at the farmhouse, exhausted.

After enjoying a hot grilled cheese sandwich and a warm shower, Juanita returned to the front of the farmhouse, where the filthy pig was tied.  Next, she sprayed Wazoo until his pink belly gleamed again.  Her hands felt heavy, her legs weary, and her eyes drowsy, but she’d done it.

But now she noticed some details she hadn’t seen before.

Wazoo’s lovely red, white, and blue toenails were perfectly chipped in exactly five places.

Two cuts graced his front legs, and one long, jagged cut ravaged his face.  Three bald spots, where white hair had been torn by a barbed-wire fence or cut from a rose bush, stared out from his now cleaned body.

“Just when you were starting to look pretty you had to go and get yourself all scratched up!  You don’t look half as nice as you did yesterday!!” she moaned.

All that wet dirt had come off, but the marks of Wazoo’s carelessness would remain.

At last, as the last rays of sunlight faded behind the western sky, a tired girl trudged onto the front porch, removing her muddy boots, and sighing deeply.

“That you, Juany?” asked Farmer Jose from inside the kitchen.

“It’s me,” said his daughter, weakly, plunging into the wooden chair at the end of the kitchen table.

“You still gonna show that pig next week?” her dad wanted to know.

“For some reason he just doesn’t seem the same anymore,” Juany said.  “All scarred and scratched and balding—I—I don’t know if I can.  He was going to be the pertiest pig in the county…and now…he’s all yucky looking—just because he wanted to go play in the mud!”

Farmer Jose studied his daughter wistfully and drew in a long breath.  “You’re still welcome to show him, Juany,” he said, “But like I said…he’s a pig.  And keepin’ ‘em all tidy like, day in and day out for months—that’s just not how pigs are made.”

And for the first time Juany realized.  No matter what she had done to change his nature, Wazoo remained the same.  He liked what pigs liked.  He did what hogs did.  He enjoyed all of life not in a human or domestic way—but rather in his own pig-headed way.

Juanita hung her head.  “It looks like you were right after all, Dad.  I thought I could change him—but I couldn’t.  I – I – I guess I’ll just let Wazoo be the pig he actually is.”

“You can still show him—”

“Naw, I don’t think so.”

“You were really hoping he’d change, weren’t you, Juany?”

“Yes, I was.  But like you said—Wazoo’s a pig, and—”

Her father looked at her as they said in unison,

“that’s just not how pigs are made.”

a pink piglet in straw