A Pig For Refufio

by Calendar Hacksaw

Beneath a splendid full moon, four gnarly old men in their mid-fifties set about to roast a 70-pound piglet in a pit dug somewhere on the outskirts of the Dry Creek Community near rural Roseville, California. This is one fractured account of the adventure, penned by one who was present.

I'm sure many of you have already done this: dug a crater the size of a VW bus in your backyard, slaughtered a pig, seasoned it with a dry rub, wrapped it in burlap soaked in "two-buck Chuck," built a contraption to contain the carcass, set fire to a half-cord of split and dried almond, invited a bunch of nitwits over to help, called the Fire Department; the list goes on and on.

Well, that's what we did; all that and more.

The truth be known, there were actually more than just the four of us; we had some invited guests, as well. There was neighbor Don, first and foremost, who not only used his backhoe to dig the pit, but also built the contraption we used to lower and raise the porker in and out of the pit, and his loyal employee, Refufio, whose skills compare to those of Michelangelo. Eric and Jason were there as well, and came in mighty handy later on. A really shady real estate developer and the ever-friendly fire engine guys rounded out the assembly. Sounds just like Twin Oaks, don't it?

So, anyway, there was lots of exotic beer, a bottle of mescal that Gary brought down from Oregon, and around midnight, I guess, we made the long death march up Don's driveway to retrieve the pig from the cooler in his workshop. The porker looked good, all outfitted with the requisite apple in the front end and the carrot out back. Wine and burlap were mixed, wrapping was accomplished with baling wire. He/she was loaded aboard the custom cart, and Gary joined me in rolling it down the long driveway toward destiny. With a little luck, and a lot of planning, Casey and I and a pair of other guys were able to lower the pig into the pit without falling in.

Around noon on the second day, the fire engine rolled in and the crew helped us dig up the prize. The meat was cooked to perfection, and we all feasted until what should have been nap time. Then Jere made the big mistake: he fetched his guitar; a Guild D35 purchased from a Tennessee pawn shop for $60 a long time ago, when Lawrence Snow was young. A very fine guitar.

As you know, readers, men need validation, to know that they are part of a larger congress. That is what "male bonding" is all about. Many wives try to deprive their mates of this, only to end up saddled with impotent wage earners. Women sure can be stupid sometimes, can't they?

Anyway, we ate ourselves silly, Jere ate the carrot, and then got out the guitar. He started out slowly, with some Roger Miller and Bob Dylan stuff, then chanced upon a Spanish number. That's when Refufio started coming to life.

I should note that until this point, Refufio had hardly been a part of the party, sitting there in his Sunday best, surrounded by a bunch of Anglo winos. He was consistently quiet and polite. But then Jere started to sing "en espanol," and someone offered Refufio some Mescal.

There is inherent disappointment in being simultaneously drunk on music and spirits, in that once sober, the magic evaporates quickly, like spit on the front porch of the Sand Canyon Bar, leaving little more than the stain of a time well had. That time was still a long way off for Refufio. For now, Refufio would soar with the eagles.

Jere's songs slammed into Refufio like bugs on an Oildale windshield, each one bigger and better than the last. Jere picked and Refufio sang his heart out; so many Spanish songs he had not heard in so very long. The beer, music and mescal created a magical effect from which there was no escape; a trance-inducing narcotic more powerful than peyote. Refufio was a prisoner of love, just as all of us have been at one time or another.

"ˇSalud!" Refufio declared, time after time. "ˇWe are all the same!" And, by the end of the night, we were, indeed, all the ˇsame!

Well, Refufio sang, and Refufio toasted the sameness of us all, repeatedly, and then Refufio disappeared, which is hard to do on only 3 acres of mostly level ground. We searched about, and I found him adding a mixture of pork, beer and mescal flavoring to Mike and April's HVAC intake on the south side of the house. Nothing that a hose and nozzle couldn't handle, but Refufio looked quite contrite, none the less.

As the evening wore down, some vote suggested that Refufio should not drive home. Eric and Jason volunteered to take him there, in spite of warnings about Refufio's wife, who was rumored to have once killed 10 men who didn't deserve it. We worried about our friend, Refufio.

But in the end, two of his sons came out to carry him in, and after Mass the following morning, nothing was said. I can only conclude that Refufio's wife found that a good husband is worth a lot more than a dead one. Perhaps Refufio serenaded her in his drunken slumber.

The lessons learned from this exercise were as follows:

  1. Hire an experienced guide. Though Don had done pigs before, he wisely made it appear that each step of the process was improvisational. For that, I ˇsalud! him.
  2. Get a qualified guitarist; one with an instrument at least 50 years old. There's no substitute for experience.
  3. Invite one person who clearly does not fit in. Then stand back and prepare for a big surprise, for it is you who does not fit in.

Calendar Hacksaw takes flack at calendarhacksaw@highdesert.com, and he also recommends that you bring two pounds of pistachios, because one pound won't be enough. And don't forget to send your host an appropriate token of appreciation, regardless of cost, because the after-party dump runs can be brutal.

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