Good-humored hog Hank Daniel of Nashville, Tennessee, a lover of a raucous, in-your-face comedy who prides himself on being able to both dish it out and take it, was intrigued when he learned of a pig “roast” to be held the following Saturday afternoon at a local cocktail lounge, with proceeds to benefit a neighborhood pet shelter.
“At the time, it seemed to make perfect sense,” said Hank, who shares a home in East Nashville with humans Nate and Cara Daniel, along with several other non-human animals: a partially lame rabbit named Bud, a blind cat called Polly, and a three-legged greyhound named Spence. “I figured they’d give us pigs a hard time, we’d all enjoy a few laughs, and we’d throw a few bucks toward some of the down-and-out critters in the ‘hood. I couldn’t argue with that!”
Knowing that his overly-protective human companions probably wouldn’t sanction an afternoon comedy outing to a bar, Hank seized a moment when Nate and Cara weren’t paying attention, squeezed his way through a gap in the backyard fence, and ambled cheerfully down the road to nearby Della’s Country Cocktail Lounge.
As he walked through the club and stepped out onto the outdoor patio,where the "roast" was being held, however, Hank suddenly smelled not a rat, but even worse - charred flesh.
He drew closer and saw, to his horror, a dead hog spinning on a spit over burning flames.
“My first thought," said Hank, "was that I’d stumbled onto a funeral. But everyone – my blackened buddy aside – seemed so cheerful! So then I figured it had to be some really out-there practical joke. I’m a huge fan of uncomfortable comedy, and I love having my limits pushed, so I was actually prepared to get on board with it. I planned to hang in there for the punchline and then have a hearty laugh with the rest of the folks."
But when he saw the bar owner Della’s husband, Jimmy, approach the corpse with an electric carving knife, it became clear to Hank that this was no funeral - and no joke. The decease hog wasn’t being honored; he was being hacked up and eaten.
“I almost lost my shit,” said Hank, his face ashen. “I mean, my sense of humor runs pretty dark, but this was beyond the pale.”
It at about that time, too, that Hank noticed that he was getting very odd glances from some of the human guests. Murmured insults and snide innuendos made him realize that even though that day’s event was ostensibly to benefit “pets,” he himself wasn’t welcome – and not only that, he could be next.
“I knew right then that it was time for me to hit the road," said Hank. He chuckled wryly and added, "They say if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. I never know how directly that advice would apply to me!”
And, so, offering silent condolences to the now-dismembered friend he’d never known, Hank, as unobtrusively (not very) as he could, made a hasty exit from Della’s and shimmied as quickly as possible back home.
Weeks later, Hank says that he is still processing the experience.
"I'm still not sure what to make of it," he said. "I certainly don’t begrudge my housemate dog, cat, and rabbit one iota of the affection they receive from our humans. I get it, too, and I dig it. And we give as good as we get - to them and to each other.”
In other words, Hank has no “pet peeve” with more traditional companion animals like dogs and cats. What he does have, however, is a heartache burning hotter than the pitiful dead hog he saw spinning on the spit at Della’s.
“Raising money for some animals while chowing down on the flesh of another animal?" he asked incredulously. "Nate and Cara are cool, but man, was this a reality check on humans in general.”
He sighed and shook his head. “I have only two words: fucked up." He laughed hopelessly. "Sorry, pardon the language. But you get my drift."