It’s a wonder I wasn’t heckled more in elementary school over this, but one of my prized possessions back then was a Pigs in Space lunchbox. Every day as I opened it up to take out my peanut butter sandwich, Town House crackers and plastic thermos full of whole milk, I enjoyed the company of some favorite characters from “The Muppet Show.”
The popular sketch was a parody of “Star Trek” and featured a pig-shaped spaceship named the “Swinetrek,” hurtling through the galaxy with its bumbling porcine crew.
The characters’ names were larded with puns. Of course there was First Mate Piggy, with her trademark golden locks of hair — “curls before swine,” you might say. The Captain, Link Hogthrob, played up his dopey, matinee-idol role with panache. The name “Link” was a nod not only to Luke Skywalker, but also to a beloved breakfast sausage.
Dr. Julius Strangepork — an elderly scientist with a German accent — rounded out the crew, with an obvious homage to Peter Sellers’ madman, Dr. Strangelove. Jim Henson was shameless at stuffing “The Muppet Show” with pop culture gags, and the day I figured out all the Pigs in Space references was one of the banner intellectual triumphs of my childhood.
While “The Muppet Show” ended in the ‘80s, you’ll be surprised to learn that pigs are back in the air, flying high and causing chaos once again.
I read a story on Metro News about a woman who boarded a U.S. Airways flight out of Connecticut last month, carrying an emotional-support pig. As it turns out, the animal caused so much commotion before the plane took off that the passenger was asked to leave. During boarding, other people on the flight complained about the smelly and noisy animal, which caused one man so much distress that he had to cling to his therapy goat.
The woman was toting her pig, not in a poke, but on a leash. Nevertheless, it apparently ran squealing up and down the aisle. No doubt the 70-pound Wilbur was panicking in these unfamiliar surroundings, desperately searching for Charlotte — his emotional-support spider — to tell him that everything would be OK because he is “Some Pig.”
And let’s not rush to assume that Charlotte herself didn’t have the jitters. If you’re a spider on board a 747 about to leave Connecticut, you might be disoriented and quite possibly needing your emotional-support housefly. Of course, when it comes to spiders and houseflies, the line between emotional support and comfort food is probably thin indeed.
But Clax, you say, don’t forget that houseflies are creatures with feelings, too. Yes, I suppose that’s true, but I have to draw the line somewhere. If I get down to writing about emotional-support mitochondria, people will accuse me of not taking this subject seriously.
I can see the trailer now. Samuel L. Jackson and Julianna Margulies are back in the air — this time protecting a man who witnessed a murder in a BBQ restaurant. The assassin wants his witness out of the picture, so as the man boards a plane to fly to the trial, Boss Hogg smuggles a crate onboard. Just when the aircraft has reached cruising altitude, the villain releases his killer “Pigs on a Plane.” Coming soon to a theater or meat locker near you.
I realize that emotional support animals perform a great service, but the more our culture outsources its mental health care to pigs, ducks, squirrels and whatnot, the harder it will be to maintain decorum in public. Therapy dogs I can handle, but emotional support pigs may be going too far. You might say “the remedy is worse than the disease,” to quote Sir Francis Bacon.
By the time you read this, the annual visit of the therapy dogs to Harding’s library will be over. Each year, the lovable canines arrive to be petted, scratched and doted upon, offering a warm respite for students overstressed from finals and end-of-the-term projects. But if you missed the dogs, I suggest you wander up to the second floor, where you’ll find the library’s permanent sources of emotional nourishment. You can check them out anytime. Happy holidays!
Story provided by Oliver McAteer of Metro News.
Link provided by Ken Hammes, late of Harding University.
Title suggested by Nick Boone.
“Snakes on a Plane” reference suggested by Larry Hunt.
Emotional support provided by Mom.