In college I was considered by
many some myself to be a pretty argumentative person. I was always “the devil’s advocate” – in English classes I would argue that symbolism in The Tempest is a clear indication that Christopher Marlowe was writing all the works attributed to Shakespeare, and in my philosophy classes I would argue that Wittgenstein’s theory of atomic facts actually broadened the horizons of an Epistemological dialogue (Oh the folly!). Indeed, I once even helped out a friend who had a run in with her RA for burning candles in her dorm by writing a “punishment essay” for her. The topic was supposed to be “Why candles are dangerous and shouldn’t be allowed in dorms” but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to argue the importance of candles. I wrote:
The truth of the matter is that candles are dangerous. But so is life. The primary purpose of a college is to educate students, yes. The secondary purpose of college is to prepare students for the workforce and provide the knowledge and skills necessary to develop a career centered around personal and professional success, yes. But the tertiary purpose of college it to also prepare students for the rest of life; the responsibility of owning a home, of paying bills, of being civic minded, and, yes, of not setting those homes that they own on fire.
I then quoted W.B. Yeats (“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”) concluding that:
. . . I understand the danger of candles; but I also understand the danger of the absence of candles. Should a time come when we need to fill our pail, we shall do so. But until then, let the proliferation of our education ignite a fire.
She wasn’t kicked out of the dorms, and I attributed that less to her unrefundable full-year payment than to my irrefutable logic.
So when my friend Scott wore a bacon styled band aid to his own birthday party last week, I felt the need to defend his actions, even while everyone was asking the obvious question: Why is there a strip of bacon on your neck?
Well why wouldn’t you want a strip of bacon on your neck? Not only are pigs delicious, but several countries, including Chile, Germany and China, consider the pig to be good luck. Even Winston Churchill once said, “Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."
But even more than the pig being a cultural icon of fortune and hope, the “idea” of “pig as bacon” harkens one back to the most pleasant memories of childhood: holiday mornings with presents under the tree and bacon in the frying pan, that smell wafting through the house as you unwrap your Castle Greyskull play set, and the distant chorus of grease popping, Dad crying “Ah shit!” in refrain; those nights at the diner in high school with the waitress you called Flo, who probably spit in your lumberjack special, which at 2:00 in the morning made sense even though the girl with the tongue ring you were sharing it with didn’t; in college, on spring break, when you ate entire breakfasts of bacon and coffee, and if you happened to be drunk already you threw some of the bacon off the balcony of your condo, thinking to your dangerously dehydrated self “flying pigs!”; and at your current age, when a piece of bacon is just another dollar bill stuffed in the g-string of an impending heart attack, still the double edged seduction of bovine on the right and an arterial blockage on the left is not only a dance in which you are willing to partake, but one you will dance with a Latin flair.
So why wear a bacon band aid? Because it’s not a bacon band aid – it’s a calcification of joyful memories covering an open wound, protecting you, healing you, making you look like Nelly, and most importantly showing everyone else that while you may be the hardened cowboy incapable of wearing your heart on your sleeve, you can at least wear your impending heart disease on your sleeve.
Note: In my research, I came across The Band-Aid “Stick With It” Awards. The rules of submission are to tell them, in 200 words or less, of your unique, inspirational story where you could have given up, but you stuck with it. The winner gets a trip to Universal Studios.
I was already halfway through mentally composing my essay about becoming one of the elite roller bladers in my neighborhood growing up when I read the fine print that the contest is “open to kids ages 4- 12 at time of entry.” I guess the line “Together with your parent or guardian share your story and enter for a chance to win!” should have clued me in earlier, but I was just so excited to share my story with the world. Now, in an ironic twist, I feel a little crushed – like I need a Band-Aid myself on the inside.