Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mermaid Tales: Pigs and Piglets

Been a while since I told y’all a Mermaid Tale. Today, I thought I’d tell you about Ralph the Swimming Pig.

Google Aquarena Springs and odds are a picture of or story about Ralph the Swimming Pig will pop up. He’s even been on TV. Now, when I say “he,” I don’t mean he as in one pig. There were lots of Ralphs over the years. There were always two on the grounds at all times. If you were a visitor and you visited Ralph in his home, you saw Ralph. There was another Ralph hidden away in another home behind the one on display. We called one Ralph and the other one…Ralph. Why two Ralphs? Because the pigs were not allowed to swim two shows in a row. It was in their star contract. Mermaids and Glurpos (more about Glurpos in a future post) had no such clause.

Did Ralph do synchronized ballet? No. Did he eat an underwater picnic? No. Did he blow air rings? Nah. Did he actually swim? Yes.

Each year, we’d get a new batch of possible Ralphs. Little baby Ralphs that we kept in the girls’ dressing room in a big box with towels for them to lay on.
In case you’re wondering, baby pigs are soooo cute. They really are. Little white piglets with pink snouts. They’re so adorable, you just want to pick them up and hug them. ‘Course when you do, you learn they are also hard as rocks. They are not soft and cuddly. But they are cute. To this day, I still love baby pigs.

Why did we get them as piglets? Because they have to be trained to swim. Training takes a while since they’re not exactly natural water lovers. You start when they’re little and get them into the water, holding them with one hand to help them float and learn to use their legs and feet (paws, hoofs, whatever) to swim. You entice them with a baby bottle of liquid piglet food. You keep working with them until you no longer have to hold them up. You just show them the bottle and they’ll swim wherever you lead them. And they get bigger. And bigger.

When they’re quite big, you teach them to dive. Okay, dive is a wishy-washy term. Ralph didn’t dive like the human divers who climbed to the top of the volcano and dove as the submarine was sinking. Ralph would be led through the volcano out to the water-level platform by, usually, a Glurpo. One of the mermaids would be in the water with a bottle. She’d hold up the bottle and Ralph would leap into the show tank and follow her. She’d make a couple of turns around the tank then lead Ralph out of view of the submarine to the shallow area where Ralph would walk out on the shore, be put back into his comfy home to get big pig food, oink at kids coming by to look at him, and wait until it was his turn to be in a show and get the yummy bottle food. All in all, Ralph had a pretty cushy life.

Eventually, he’d get too big or old and be retired and a new Ralph would take his place. When Ralph retired, he moved to a beautiful farm with lots of mud, green grass, water so he could relive his glory days, and tons of corn on the cob desserts.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Hey! It’s what we were told.

(Before you ask, that’s not me in the picture with Ralph.)

Am I the only one who thinks piglets are cute?

34 comments:

  1. One of my favorite pictures in a book when I was a little girl was of Wilbur in Charlotte's Web when he was a piglet!

    I LOVE your mermaid stories. Sounds like the Ralphs were treated better than y'all were!

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

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  2. Piglets are adorable. And loud. You would think pigs would find it hard to swim. They don't have very good feet for it. It's a great mental image though - swimming piglets. :)

    Laurita
    Brain Droppings

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  3. This post was hard to get through--laughing out loud makes it difficult to read!
    It's dark and rainy here in Ohio and this definitely brightened my day.

    Thanks Helen

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  4. Yes, piglets are cute and sweet. I love the Mermaid Tales. Thanks for sharing today, it has been awhile.

    Mason
    Thoughts in Progress

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  5. Please tell me you are including these mermaid stories in a book somewhere. They are so funny!

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  6. Very funny post - thanks for the laughs! I don't have any experience at all with piglets, being a city girl, so I'll just take your word for it.

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  7. I love your mermaid tales, Helen. And yes, piglets are adorable. These could be a lovely collection of stories...
    karen

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  8. awesome story!
    And yes, piglets are up there with puppies and kittens for cuteness

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  9. That's true, Elizabeth, but Ralph was the STAR, afterall.

    Liza, I do have stories from my mermaid days, but probably not enough for a book.

    Laura, you would like piglets. If they'd stay little, they might make good apartment pets.

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  10. What a fun story. I can't wait to find out about Glurpos. I'm not a big fan of pigs, but I think babies are cute and irresistible in any species.

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  11. Mermaids and a swimming pig - it just doesn't get any better! Thanks for sharing another mermaid tale, Helen.

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  12. LOL! I loved it! And I love darling little piglets, too. :-)

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  13. Very cool! Made me smile. Is Aquarena Springs in San Marcos, TX? I think I may have visited there once.

    Thanks for sharing, Hel!

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  14. I have to agree, babies of any species are adorable.

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  15. Yes, indeedy, Aquarena was in San Marcos, TX. Not there anymore, though.

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  16. Why did they choose pigs? That alone is very funny. Thanks for a fun story. I hope so much there really is a lovely farm somewhere full of Ralphs.

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  17. Lauri, I'm guessing they chose pigs because it's not often you see a pig swimming and, you're right, it's funny.

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  18. Clean pigs are okay - and I guess if Ralph swam, he was usually clean.
    Why not a photo of you with Ralph?

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  19. Piglets are cute in photos and drawings. I've never seen a real live one. I TOTALLY believe your story :)

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  20. Alex, unless there are photos somewhere in storage, the only photos of me that I have are two postcards with me. I'm so tiny in the photo that you'd have trouble finding me. In one I'm on the volcano and on the other I'm atop the submarine.

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  21. Piglet cute? Not sure. The only thing I know is that he's Winnie the Pooh's friend >:)

    Cold As Heaven

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  22. Piglet is cute! Winne thinks so.

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  23. Mermaid tales are wonderful - keep them coming.
    Ann
    www.cozyintexas.blogspot.com
    www.annsummerville.com

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  24. I LOVE piglets. This was a glorious story and made me grin ear to ear.
    Thank you!!!!!!! <--overabundance of exclamation points to show how much I enjoyed it.
    Karen :0)

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  25. Yes, I once held a baby piglet and it was CUTE! All snorty, and snuffling, and adorable.

    What a lovely, funny, great story!

    Glurpos? Can't wait. :)

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  26. Karen, I love exclamation points, as well.

    Marisa, I'm glad someone else thinks piglets are adorable. yay!

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  27. Definitely cute. Always a high point of taking kids to visit a farm.

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  28. I think pigs are cute, too! "Babe" was an adorable piggy.

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  29. What a fun story. Our little one is really into farm animals and I have now found the best places in our rural community to view every animal imaginable.

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  30. That's a great idea, Slamdunk. We didn't get to see a lot of animals when my kids were little, except for visits to my grandfather's ranch.

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  31. Pigs are funny and make good pets. They taste good too. Sorry Ralphs.

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  32. What a wonderful start to my day - I love piglets and I loved your post. I have to say I am a tad envious of you getting to cuddle a piglet even if they aren't quite as soft and cuddly as I hoped! (Have you seen those miniature pigs? They are Cute Overload!)

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  33. Simon! Okay, I admit, I do eat pork, but hopefully not little baby ones.

    Chris, don't show me a picture of a miniature pig. I might be tempted.

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  34. They are cute. You would not want to live in my house. Easter and Christmas the family pig is slaughtered, by the small farm keeper next door. It is a family affair. DH, hates it, as he is a piglet fan.

    Swimming pigs I have not seen.

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