“A beauty pageant is no place for a putrid pig,” — Muffy, a blue blood Scottie, voted Prettiest Pet previous three years
“You give swine a bad name,” — Cob, little brother of Poinsettia
***The events described herein actually happened. The names have not been changed, because no one was innocent.***
There was this pig. Her name was Poinsettia. Peculiar, but that was it. Her mom and dad, Nuzzle and Flop loved all their squealers and never imagined one would become barnyard royalty someday.
Up until her coronation, Tia, as she was known around the yard, loved doing pig things. She wallowed in mud, jostled for slop at feeding time and slicked up to compete against the farmers in the Greased Olympigs.
When it happened, Tia rose to royalty quickly. One minute she was wallowing in the mud, and the next, Farmer Finkle was heaving her out of the pen, hosing her down and scrubbing her with a stiff brush. He dried her off and sprinkled some sweet smelling powder all over her. Oh, she put up a fight over that; she raised a ruckus. Farmer Finkle was determined and patiently waited until she quieted. Then, he put her in the back of his pickup truck and drove her to the county fair.
He registered her in the Prettiest Pet competition, which caused a commotion. Some folks didn’t think pigs qualified as pets. The rule book was checked and no one could find any reason to exclude Farmer Finkle’s entry. At that, Mrs. Tiffany Honeycutt declared she would not allow Muffy to compete with a “filthy beast” and hurried off in a huff.
The farmer stood at the pig’s side, hand feeding her baby carrots and cherry tomatoes as the judges nodded and scribbled notes in their little books. After the votes were tallied, they placed a tiara on the pig’s head and declared her Prettiest Pet. Her name was spelled out in rhinestones across the glittery crown. It was the name that Farmer Finkle had written on the registration form. The name was “Princess Poinsettia.” The people all made a big fuss over the pig, feeding her the baby carrots and cherry tomatoes Farmer Finkle gave them while they had their pictures taken with the Prettiest Pet.
By the time the farmer chauffeured the beauty queen home, Princess Poinsettia was feeling quite comfortable with her celebrity status. After Farmer Finkle hoisted her off the truck, he carried her to the barn, set her down amongst her subjects and drove away.
Her highness wondered who would ask the first question, give the first gift, show the first respect. While she waited, Princess Poinsettia allowed the common pigs to bask in the warm glow of the setting sun reflecting off her tiara.
The pigs actually stepped back and dropped their eyes as the princess surveyed them. They flinched under her scrutiny, cowering in her presence. Nobody dared speak.
Finally, her father, Flop, stepped up.
“Take that thing off, it’s blinding us,” he snorted, pushing the tiara onto the floor with his snout.
“Glad you’re home, dear,” Nuzzle said, blinking her eyes and snuffling her daughter’s ear before lumbering away to bed.
“We missed you at Greased Olympigs practice,” Poinsettia’s adoring little brother Cob called, turning in a quick circle as he lay down on some straw. “I missed you most of all. Love you, Tia.”
“It’s Princess Poinsettia!” the pig snapped back. That wasn’t a royal reception, Poinsettia thought peevishly. As she tried to sleep, the beautiful pig planned and plotted, dreaming up ways to impress the others. After a very long while, she remembered what her little brother had said and finally got around to answering him.
“Love you, too, Cob,” she whispered in the dark.
He never heard her. Cob, who loved his big sister more than sweet corn, had already cried himself to sleep.
The next morning, Princess Poinsettia woke with a mission. She was determined to make them show her the respect she felt she deserved.
If I’m going to be a princess, I have to act like a princess, she told herself. After putting her tiara back on, she pulled her royal robe, a moth eaten blanket actually, off the hook on the barn wall and draped it over her back. When she walked, she held her head up very high and took long regal steps. I’m gliding, Poinsettia thought. She decided to try out her gliding on the others. This had to impress them.
The little pigs were wallowing in the mud when Princess Poinsettia glided by. They paused in their wiggling as she passed.
“Why don’t you join them, honey?” Nuzzle asked from behind her. “The mud looks nice and slimy today.”
“Princesses don’t wallow in mud,” Poinsettia sniffed, turning up her snout and gliding away. Cob, who was watching the whole thing, looked over at Nuzzle, who just shook her head. The princess continued her tour of the barnyard, nodding slightly to her subjects along the way. As she completed her circuit, Flop strolled out of the barn.
“Come on kids, it’s feeding time,” he announced.
“A princess does not jostle for slop,” Poinsettia pointed out haughtily. Besides, thought the Princess, Farmer Finkle feeds me fine food, not slop. I will be served later so I can feast in peace.
“You have to eat before the Greased Olympigs this afternoon,” Cob countered. “You’ll need the energy.”
“Princesses do not play greasy sports,” Poinsettia looked down her snout at her little brother.
“I’m going to nap now,” she added. “Please do not disturb me. Princesses need their beauty sleep.” The pigs were speechless as Poinsettia turned daintily on her hoof and glided into the shadows of the barn.
After the princess pig hogged the freshest hay for her bed, she fell asleep and snored loudly. Cob snuck in, pulled the moth eaten blanket off her, and gently removed the tiara from her head with his teeth. He carried them out the door.
When Poinsettia awoke and found her crown and royal robe missing, she bolted out of the barn. Just outside the door, she discovered a drawing scratched in the mud. It was a crudely drawn pig whose head was wildly out of proportion to its body. Above the mud portrait was written “Princess Tia” and below it “The Pig With The Big Head.” Princesses don’t like having their feelings hurt any more than the rest of us. Poinsettia walked back and forth over the ugly drawing, mashing it into muddy mush.
“How do I look?” Poinsettia heard Cob say from around the corner of the barn.
“Oh princess, you look like a pig in a blanket,” someone answered.
Stepping around the corner, Poinsettia gasped when she saw what was going on. There was Cob, wearing her tiara and royal robe while the rest of the little pigs rolled in the mud, gripping their fat pink tummies, laughing hysterically.
The princess was not amused.
Poinsettia got mad. Cob got mad back. Their tails uncurled. Words were exchanged. Terrible things were said.
In the end, Princess Poinsettia snatched back her crown and royal robe and flounced off. Alone.
A bit later, the pretty pig pricked up her ears as the last of the animals left to kick some farmer butt in the Greased Olympigs. Poinsettia had been hiding out in a dark corner of the barn since her squabble with Cob. Now that they were all gone, she had her kingdom, the barnyard, all to herself.
As she glided through, it occured to her that princessing was a lot harder than pigging. It wasn’t very much fun, either. She missed wallowing with Cob and she was getting sort of hungry. Farmer Finkle hadn’t been by yet with her new special diet of baby carrots and cherry tomatoes. Since nobody else was around, she slipped over and stuck her head in the trough, just in case the others had left over some slop. No such luck. They had all made pigs of themselves and the trough was picked clean.
The silence of the barnyard was suddenly ripped apart by an ear-splitting squeal. It was Cob. Princess Poinsettia forgot all about dignity and respect and gliding and instinctively raced off to help her little brother.
As Poinsettia arrived at the Greased Olympigs mud field, she saw that a farmer had Cob in a bear hug. Cob wriggled and wrestled and grunted, but was no match for the farmer. The other pigs were huddled together at the other side of the mud field. When the farmer finally released Cob, he scampered back to the pack of pigs and disappeared into a sea of pink. Poinsettia watched as pig after pig after pig entered the ring, faced the farmers, and ended up humiliated and hogtied. It was a bad day for greased pigs.
What a shame that princesses don’t play greasy sports, Poinsettia thought. Then, like a lightning bolt, the pieces fell into place. She realized there may be a way to redeem the pigs’ dignity and earn their respect at the same time.
Shaking off the tiara and slipping out from under the royal robe, Princess Poinsettia darted through the rails in the fence, dove into the mud, and wallowed for all she was worth.
A hush fell over the crowd of people and pigs alike as Poinsettia stood, covered in slimy, slippery mud and faced the farmers defiantly.
Farmer Finkle was first. Poinsettia aimed herself at him and squirted right between his legs like a watermelon seed at a spitting contest. His knees knocked together a split second too late to trap her.
The other farmers cheered which was weird. They just lost a point as far as the pigs could figure.
Poinsettia then launched herself at Farmer Felderhoven, who had his feet planted wide and his arms outstretched. The pig focused on his grinning face and missiled in. At the last possible moment, she turned, skidded and sprayed the man with a fan of mud.
“Go pig! Go pig!” the farmers began chanting.
She ricocheted off the tip of the man’s boot and tobaggoned into her next victim, Farmer Frederickson. He was actually trying to leap aside as she bowled him over, knocking his feet right out from under him.
This met with the thunderous approval of the farmers, who hooted and howled heartily.
The princess was just getting warmed up. All in all that day, Poinsettia escaped, eluded, and embarassed seventeen hardy farmers, setting a new barnyard record.
The farmers put a ribbon around her neck with a medal that read “Slipperiest Pig in Silkpurse County.” The people finger whistled and applauded. The pigs waited impatiently. They had their own victory to celebrate. Cob bristled. Now the princess will become Grease Queen and Tia will be gone forever, he thought miserably.
Finally, after the human foolishness subsided, the ribbon was removed and all the pigs were put to pen. The pigs gathered and jostled around the new champion. Poinsettia had scored 17 points for swinekind in one day. Everyone was in awe.
Flop stepped up, stood at Poinsettia’s side, and cleared his throat.
“As reining Grease King,” the big pig began, “It is my duty to surrender the title when my record is beaten. I hereby pronounce my daughter… um.. .Princess. . .Poinsettia, the new Grease Queen,” he finished, mumbling.
Nuzzle nodded at her husband, who looked away quickly and moved back into the crowd, leaving his daughter alone, facing the throng.
You could have heard a mouse hiccup in the still that settled over them. The pigs regarded the Queen and the Queen regarded the pigs. After forever, Poinsettia spoke.
“I’m just plain Tia,” the former princess said quietly, “If that’s okay.”
Tia looked at Cob. All the pigs looked at Cob. Cob looked at Tia. Cob snorted and smiled. Tia snorted and smiled back.
Then everyone went hog wild.