Weird Pig had tried many brands of personal lubricant. He found it ironic that his favorite brand was the generic stuff you can get at CVS called, simply, personal lubricant.

Weird Pig didn’t have the firmest grasp of the concept of irony, which was a particular shame in his case because ironic was a word he used at every opportunity. He said it was ironic when he got a flat tire and had been driving on gravel. My goodness, he said, changing the tire. Isn’t that ironic!

He said it again when one of the chickens told him how Farmer Dan had been giving them less feed than they were used to eating.

No one corrected him. The chickens just glanced knowingly at one another, then looked back at Weird Pig.

When someone says something dumb every day, and it’s the same dumb thing every day, and no one ever sets him straight, then it’s not the fault of the ignorant pig, anymore, that he’s ignorant. It’s everyone’s fault. 

Farmer Dan had indeed been giving the chickens less feed than they were used to. There was nothing ironic about it. Irony is when something happens that you’re led implicitly to expect not to happen, or which is at least surprising, given what has led up to the ironic thing. That Farmer Dan had less and less feed to give to the chickens was not surprising/ironic at all, given his gambling addiction.

Every Friday night he would travel to Farmer Jim’s house by motorcar. Farmer Jim’s wife had died, five years prior, in what was made to look like a suicide, and so there was no one to keep an eye on Farmer Jim’s questionable behavior, to tell him in no uncertain terms that he was playing with fire (not literally with fire—it would be wrong to say that) when he did things like shoot rats with a .22 and shoot at cars passing his land on the highway from a tree stand he’d built that no one else knew about. He always missed the cars, with his gun. It wasn’t ironic; he missed because he had bad aim.

Farmer Dan used to go to Farmer Jim’s and do all right, usually, at the card table. He wasn’t a bad gambler. But Farmer Jim also ran a brothel out of the second floor of his house, and Farmer Dan never passed up the chance to take advantage of what was up there waiting for him if he was willing to shell out his winnings and whatever else he’d brought with him to gamble with in the first place. It’s a victimless crime, he thought.Walnut Grove Historic Japantown Kawashimo CA 4

Try telling that to the chickens. Or to the prostitutes on the second floor of Farmer Jim’s place.

Farmer Jim had bought them from human traffickers, and their lives were full of suffering. They weren’t indentured servants; they were slaves. Farmer Dan thought they were begging him for more sex, whenever he had finished and was putting his pants back on. They clung to him and begged and begged with great desperation. They weren’t begging for more of his sex. They were begging Farmer Dan to go and get help, to contact the authorities, to tell their mothers and fathers what had become of them in America. But he didn’t speak Russian. He only knew how to say nyet, da, and u tebya na kolenyakh.

The chickens suffered, too, for when Dan returned to the farmhouse, still drunk the next morning and now broke to boot, it wasn’t the car that went without gasoline. It wasn’t the college tuition fund for his children he didn’t put money in, later that month when he sold some wheat. It was the chicken coop he put less feed in, so that the chickens went hungry.

There was no irony in the sickly eggs the chickens would lay, nor in the omega-3 acids Dan and his family got less of because the eggs weren’t as rich in nutrients as they would have been otherwise.

But Weird Pig would have said these things were highly ironic, all of them. And no one would have said a thing.

He pronounced nuclear the wrong way. He called all soft drinks Cokes. He thought of 5-Hour Energy drinks as dietary supplements, and failed to see that that designation was a transparent marketing ploy, a way to make it seem like something other than what it was: cheap speed that didn’t work very well.

He would do half the dishes and leave the rest unwashed for a whole day at a time, as if it were necessary to have a sink that was half-full of dirty dishes at all times.

He didn’t believe in napkins.

When he heard the news about the meat that was discovered in a freezer in China that had been frozen in storage since the 1970s, he started putting out feelers, sending emails, asking how hard it would be for him to get his hands on some of that meat. They must still be selling some of it, he said. There must be more. With all the media exposure, it must be going cheap.

It’s just business, he said. I’ve got to keep an eye on my interests.

BEFORE THE RAZOR button ver 2

razor iconRobert Long Foreman’s work has appeared most recently in Copper Nickel, Redivider, Booth, The Utne Reader, and Fourth Genre. Foreman is The Cossack Review’s Fiction Editor, and teaches creative writing and literature at Rhode Island College.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.