Dinner with Arnold
And Burying the Sail-Cats
By Steve Carr
Around the time I began kindergarten my family moved just beyond the edge of Idaho Falls. Our new house was an island among red barns and potato fields. Long-tailed pheasants strutted along the barbed wire fence separating our yard and the grain field that stretched for a mile beyond.
Despite our commitment to country life, I realize now, we never fully fit in with the farm kids. Our overalls were bright blue new, ironed after each wash and free of patches.
Green Acres was a favorite television sitcom. Ironically, we had no clue how near perfect the satire was. The entire Carr clan was the real-life-innocently-out-of-step Oliver Wendell Douglas. We attacked country life with a kind of naïve vigor. My little brother even raised a pig that lived in a doghouse in the back yard. You guessed it—he christened the farm animal “Arnold.” I’m not making this up.
Naming the pig was a mistake, one a true farmer doesn’t make. We ate Arnold. That’s what country folk do. The idea was tough to swallow. So Mom would disguise Arnold as chicken, whether dinner was pork roast, pork chops or bacon. Being the older brother, I knew better and played along with the charade but would scrape the “chicken” from my plate to the dog when Mom’s back was turned. It pained me to ask one pet to snack on another, but I just couldn’t eat Arnold.