All week I've been excited about an event I'm going to tonight. But excited in a nostalgic, wistful, girlish kind of way. In some ways that's a bit odd since it's really just a social media-related meetup, and I've been to several of those. I always meet cool & interesting people, but there's no real reason to get all giddy. Except for one small phrase in the midst of the description of this particular meetup:
We will be having a pig roast ...
Ah, pig roasts. It has been at least 30 years since I was at a true pig roast. When I was between the ages of 4 and 12 my family and I lived in or near company housing provided by my Father's employer about 30 minutes outside the little town we were imprisoned at. As part of the routine maintenance, the houses were painted every 2 years - in one year they'd be painted on the outside, and two years later they'd be painted on the inside. And so on. And, every 2 years the same painter - Andy - would get the job.
I don't know that Andy was his real name, or if that was an Anglicized version of his Hungarian name, but either way this boisterous, friendly Hungarian with his wild gypsy moustache and small crew would descend upon the housing, paint the clapboard white and the trim any one of 4 or 5 colours (it looked a little bit like a rainbow - Beats in the blue house, Dales in the pink house, Olsons in the green house, Enses in the yellow house, Dodges in the blue house at the other end, etc). We'd watch the scaffolding proceed down the road. Knowing the routine, but still treating it with great excitement.
And, every two years, in appreciation for the generous contract that likely sustained his small-business, Andy would - at the end of his labours - give back to us a pig roast. And what a pig roast. A real split-pig carcass - snout to tail - was skewered and spit roasted all-day over a slow burning fire, ferociously tended by the men of the compound - the fire fueled by pine logs, and the men fueled by pilsner. On the first few instances the spit was hand cranked, a hot, tiring job that required frequent changes of manpower. Being the ingenious and mechanincally minded types the men of the compound were, the hand crank was soon replaced with a motor crank, but the constant attention and pilsner-fueled supervision were never modified.
Meanwhile, the rest of the feast was being prepared in the community hall that housed the most amazing parties any kid could hope to attend - Christmas, Halloween, retirements, and Andy's pig roasts - we'd have salads of every description, including jell-o salad in molds (hey, it was the 70's) and baked potatos and soft white rolls (hey, it was the 70's) and all kind of desserts, and the jukebox would play one of it's 23 songs that never got changed, and then the meat would be brought in - smoky and hot and succulent. If you were lucky, your dad might have snuck you a piece of cracklin' - the subcutaneous fat the sizzled and smoked and turned into perfect savoury treats. We'd eat, and dance about, and giggle with our friends.
Sometimes the pilsner got the better of a man or two. My family didn't drink, and I can remember being confused why a certain Mr. of the bunch fell asleep in his potatoes one year. But the over-whelming feeling of community and connectedness and abundance and appreciation is something I'll never forget. And something I've lamented being able to re-create for my sons.
So I'm excited about the pig roast tonight. I know it won't be the same. And that largely I'll be among strangers. There likely won't be any molded jell-o salads, and I hope no one 'falls asleep' in their potatos.
But all the same I'm excited.
Now if I could only remember what it is one wears to a pig roast - especially one that combines business networking and the chance to kayak.