Marrying a Real Pig

a radio commentary broadcast on Jefferson Public Radio's The Jefferson Daily
Tuesday, July 8, 1997
(c)1997 by Fred Flaxman

HOST: Some people learn about life from books. Others, from public radio programs. Still others learn from first-hand experience. Commentator Fred Flaxman learns about life... from his granddaughter.

FLAXMAN: My seven-year-old granddaughter, Brittany, recently announced that she wanted to marry our new kitten, Ribsy, when the two of them grow up. I told her that she couldn't have chosen a cuter fellow, but that I saw one possible problem with the idea.

"At the wedding ceremony," I said, "when you are asked if you take Ribsy to be your lawfully wedded husband, you'll say `I do.' But what will Ribsy say when he is asked if he takes you to be his lawfully wedded wife?"

Brittany, who is a precocious child, thought about this for only a moment, and replied: "I'll teach him to say `I do' in English."

"What if, despite all your efforts, you don't succeed in being the first person in the history of the world to teach a cat to speak?"

"Well, in that case," she replied, "I'll teach whoever is marrying us to understand `I do' when it is said in Catonese."

"Good idea," I replied, "but I'm afraid that I see another problem with the idea, as well. You and Ribsy would not be able to have any children together, and that is usually considered one of the reasons for getting married."

"We would be marrying for love," Brittany explained, "and, anyway, we could adopt a kitten for me and a baby for Ribsy to take care of."

I've been thinking about this ever since and have come to the conclusion that Brittany was basically right. Not that Ribsy would be capable of raising an adopted child, but that the basic requirement of a good, lasting marriage is true love - not sex, procreation, gender, age, or even… species.

Rapid advances in genetic engineering could make possible Brittany's vision of a future when people and animals not only tie the nuptial knot, but have offspring from that union. This could lead to a society where people with eagle eyes were likely to be part eagle, where we would know how to breed real foxy ladies, and we would understand why some men acted like wolves, kids ate like birds, some folks had the nose of a bloodhound, and a select few were lionhearted heroes.

This would be a wonderful world of romantic possibilities: authentic mermaids and mermen, centaurs, and harpies too! There would finally be hope for Miss Piggy, and instead of Larry Flynt and Bob Guccione, we might have… Hugh Heffer.

Not long ago scientists cloned a sheep. At the rate they're going, by the time Brittany is ready to marry Ribsy, interspecies conception should be as common as cloned cattle, crustaceans and Catholic saints.

HOST: The comments of Fred Flaxman are a regular Tuesday feature of the Jefferson Daily.