September 12. Late. Just deposited home from the 2015 Pig Roast in a heap of beer and barbecue stains, and I have until midnight before the stagecoach becomes a pumpkin and this article is due.
Now that I have a laptop on my lap top, the urge is strong in this one to simply rattle off a list of pig puns, but I promise to maintain my composure as much as possible. Alas, I ham only a man. And punning is my sty-le. This swine ever drink and write. But anything for you, reader. Something, something whole hog.
As is perhaps evident, I’ve decided that the best conditions under which this article should be penned are a) while the Roast is still turning in my mind and 2) drunk – the better to capture l’esprit de cochon.
I’m pretty great at transitions, and I grew up in Francophone Cajun country, home of seasoned drinkers and hoggivores. A common south Louisiana tradition is the cochon de lait gathering, where we all congregate, shovel in swine flesh and swill, and discuss the latest alligator uprising and just “who” exactly “dat” is.
According to my stock photo search, “dat.”
So, even though I can count the number of such events I’ve attended on the digit of one badly mangled hand, I had some modest pig pickin’ know-how already under my snout.
I’d heard that the Roast was a pretty big deal for Washington and Lee Law, and, not wanting to look like a fool, I also did my homework. Which is why I was unable to go on-location to the pork preparation the night before the big day. (Also, I wasn’t invited.) But while I hunched over Contracts in a dark corner somewhere, a handful of 3Ls partied and several 2Ls diligently drank beer and poked an entire pig stretched over a fire all night long, modern Hestias guarding the sacred flame.
After getting through yet another brief, I closed my Contracts book with a deafening thud and re-placed it on my free-weight bench. My mind flew back to my prior cochon experience, and I felt ready for the big day, rubbing my hands together in my best impersonation of a vaudeville villain or a vomiting fly. With an inside scoop, I was set, and I slept like a baby – except one that doesn’t wake up all night.
But still, like the Legends of the Hidden Temple chump charging in with only a half-pendant of life, I was unprepared for what awaited me once I’d stepped off the shuttle that herded Roast-goers from campus to the secluded spot on the banks of the Maury River. The smell and the sight of the sprawled-out, smiley, dead beast were enough to tempt even the staunchest blind vegetarian. I have no jokes about the taste, because that level of flavor and tenderness demands serious appreciation.
If I was a little out of my pen here, I wanted to talk to people who associated pig roasts more with jabs at law enforcement than with barbecues. Chloe Bilodeau, 1L, had never been to a luau before, like an innocent, carefree dove who had never been to a luau before. So, in the name of journalism and for you, dear reader, your unassuming reporter got up close to huff her novice essence.
Chloe raised an eyebrow, took a Shaq step back from me, and answered my queries. “It’s a lot of fun. Nice to see everyone taking a break from studying and just having a good time as people and not as law students.”
It was, indeed, a good time, quite the hoggy hootenanny. The music of Gary Ruley and Mule Train kept us bobbing our heads to the bluegrass goodness and one mean mandolin. We pigged out, we drank. The adventurous danced or dipped a trotter in the river water, all cozily bacon in the sun. As old Sol began charioting down to bother the other half of the world, the air cooled, and the kegs kept pouring. I probably creeped some people out by taking pictures of them, including one of the 2Ls charged with cooking the beast, who took the time to converse with your humble journalist.
I can report that Carl “The Meat Master” Krausnick has a last name my word processor can’t even. According to Carl, “Why are you sneaking a picture of me while badly pretending to text someone?” and, more pertinently, “I barely remember last year’s Pig Roast, because I got a concussion the night before. But this year’s event was a great success!” There you have it from a veteran, folks; this year’s Roast was both successful and more memorable than last year’s.
As I tumbled back onto a returning shuttle with other merry Roasters, something Chloe said came rocketing back through my being with more unbridled ferocity than old Chipotle. It was really, really nice to see my fellow students cutting loose away from the caffeine and carrels and just hanging out. My prior experience with burning and eating pigs had meant slop; someone completely new to the custom had already figured it out. Le cochon de lait. Literally, “the pig in milk.” Which is neither here nor there. But figuratively, “community, “camaraderie,” “friendship.” Here lies the spirt of the Roast, and, as anyone in attendance can tell you – many of whom were complete strangers but a few short weeks ago – the spirit of Washington and Lee Law. And this is truly something that, unlike my cousin Kevin, we can all be proud of.
September 12. Later. Just reflecting on the 2015 Pig Roast, a cochon gathering for the books. It was epig. Sorry.
I can think of no better words to go out on, and so, I leave you with those of one of the great sages of our time. Until next Roast, “A-ba-dee-ba-dee. Ba-dee. Ba-dee. That’s all, folks.”