Sometimes I daydream about younger days. Today’s reverie focused on a particularly irresponsible act that took place during college. The occasion would become known later as The Day We Set the Pigs Free. And by pigs, I mean guinea. Beloved to second grade teachers the world around, the squeaking, grunting, pooping animals previously inhabited a small cage. Lubricated by marijuana, we decided the arrangement was cruel. We felt like PETA, but without the irony and the tone-deaf delivery.
A few years older than me, I was invited over to her apartment. Immediately upon my entrance, she showed me her stripper shoes, which were full of a jumble of other shoes resting in the main closet. These shoes were no longer in active use, but I could almost see the bad music and fluorescent lighting. I just did a lot of coke, she said. This had been a few years before and she made no apologies for it. She downplayed the drug use and I believed her. Three years later, I would receive a terse e-mail from her husband, stating that she had sold the car for drugs and that he was filing for divorce. Some people recover. Some people relapse.
I return to the pigs. After introducing it with the proper fanfare, I produced a regular cigarette from which I had thoughtfully removed the tobacco. It now contained perhaps three inches worth of something very different. Within minutes, we felt like dancing, but even stoned I still could not dance. Awkwardness that profound cannot be cured by recreational drug use alone. So she danced by herself over by the television, and then, growing bored with it, suggested animal liberation. Reaching into the unlatched cage, I lifted one pig in the crook of my arms and she did the same.
Be free! She yelled. They scattered across the hardwood floors, their long nails clacking and clicking. Later, we would find them in the bedroom she shared with her husband. They had, it seems, not very much heart for exploration. Instead they hid in the darkest corner of the entire apartment, and left a huge quantity of pellet-shaped excrement in their wake. I know many people who would do the same thing, if set free from their daily responsibilities.
It was a little comical trying to find them after a time, recognizing even in our disorientated state that they needed food and water. We quickly forgot where we had already looked, frequently checking the same area three and four times over. It was only after I passed by the edge of the box springs that they began to loudly whistle. Guinea pigs don't particularly care much about freedom. Mildly curious in the best of times, they get fearful instead of bold. Chalk it up to another in a series of well-meaning, but ill-informed acts.