This is a term which referrers to a deal or agreement that is foolishly accepted without being fully examined. The origin of this phrase is from the Late Middle Ages. Wikipedia explains this confidence scheme as an offer to sell a suckling pig in a poke (bag). The wiggling bag would not contain a pig but a cat. You can’t eat cat. The point in today’s world is buyer beware of buying a cat when what you really want is bacon.
I learned this term early this week while I was stuck in a Sunday school room all day surrounded by my neighbors and a few lawyers to torture me. I am sure you are asking yourself, “why would Ruth do this to herself?” Miss work to hang out with lawyers? The simple response is Chris and I purchased a pig in a poke in 2004. And this pig had a contract that came along with it. Call it a registered pig or a pig with papers. Bear with me while I explain the details.
The spring following our purchase Chris was out in the yard playing with our little Nancy. Our neighbor walked over and started looking at our pig. He pointed out that our pig had fur and purred like a cat. He too had purchased a pig from the farmer who owned our land before us. Chris and I started to look into this pig controversy. I went downtown to the library to research pigs. In my shock I discovered our sweet little pig Nancy was a cat. I would not be making bacon from her in the years to come. She was a cat and I was sure the farmer knew it before he sold her to me.
I remember asking some of the farm hands it we were buying a pig and if the pig would be ours for ever. They promised it would be our pig and no one would touch our pig. So we purchased our pig and were happy when we brought her home. I was now angry about my cat. I grew up with pigs, chickens, cows, and ducks. I didn’t grow up with cats. I need pigs to keep my farm girl roots.
I tried to look past my cat’s yellow fur. I tried to train her to root around in the dirt rather than purr. We tried taking it to play with our neighbor’s pigs, but they had cats to. I didn’t see how our pig could be a cat when we asked questions and the farmer gave us a contract promising that we were buy a pig. Even our neighbors had the same written promise to the identity of the animal.
So a group of us went down to the county agent to see if he could decipher our contract or identify the pig, I mean cat. The county agent looked over everything and felt he could help. Yes, we would have to keep our cat, but maybe he could get the farmer to give us money to buy a new pig. Before anything could happen our cat got sick. She got so sick that she destroyed her pen in the back yard.
Nancy has been sick since 2007. On rainy days her illness intensifies and we worry that something else will be destroyed. Our county agent has hired vets and pet care professionals. But all I really want is for the farmer to buy back my cat. And then I can get a new pig. But this time, I will look inside the bag before I hand over the money. I have learned. And I don’t need Foghorn J. Leghorn to tell me it’s my day. My day will come when I roast a pig in my backyard. The yard I speak of will not have a ditch running through it.