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The Guinea Pig Pageant

I recently entered my squealing herd of four guinea pigs in a pageant. Yes, a pageant. Like for dogs and little girls.

It may seem like crazy and a bit much, but the heart of the pageant was just to have fun. And you know what? It was a lot of fun. It was probably meant generally for little kids, but that's okay.


They were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Yes, I am responsible for those uneven blotches. Thank you very much, you judgmental dick.
I will give you some background as to why this was the event that made my October. I'm sure none of it is a drastic surprise. I have been so depressed since August that it's been hard to treat myself well or act like a normal person. In truth, I have felt detached, marooned and hopeless. I have crying jags for no reason (they are getting better) and bouts of irrational rage. It's scary, because I've not been this emotionally all over the place in a long time. I have stayed up at night contemplating my worth and I've had several breakdowns on the phone to my Mom. It's not been an easy time, but I'm starting to see a real light at the end of this tunnel.




I have had some bright spots in this time, and they are as follows:

- my guinea pigs
- my friends, esp. having reconnected with my old friend Kim (also a contributor to this blog)

When I broke up with my girlfriend of nearly a year (or vice versa, to be honest), I suddenly found myself the sole caretaker of four wheeky, stinky, demanding guinea pigs. One, this was rough because I was planning a future with this girl. I thought she was as well but at this point in time I can say I am not sure. I thought we'd eventually move in together, get married, adopt a kid. All down the road, obviously. But it was nice to have someone who I was genuinely invested into share all those ideas with. So when that was pulled out and I found myself altogether cut off, well, you can imagine. 

TWO, I had no idea nor any intention of brooding over a HERD OF GUINEA PIGS. We had originally two, which is cool. Two guinea pigs are like one small dog. A chihuahua.  Four guinea pigs? We're entering borderline nutcase territory. 


And I do not drive, so this compounds matters of getting food, hay, taking their fleece blankets to the laundromat, etc. Yep, it sucks a little. I mean, guinea pigs have bottomless stomachs. They could eat EVERYTHING IN MY ROOM and STILL WHEEK AT ME FOR FOOD.


However, the bigger problem is how much I love these damn things. Despite all the pooping and peeing and stinking, the guinea pigs are my little family. They love me in their own weird ways. When I have to sift through guinea pig pellets removing the dried fruit for my diabetic pig, it's because I adore these guys. I come home, and they greet me. They cuddle with me; they make me laugh when they rumblestrut around the cage (or get stuck in their food bowl- true story). So even though some people have told me "YOU SHOULD GET RID OF TWO OF THEM" I just can't. Smores is the little alpha pig troublemaker who likes people the most; Mocha is skittish with a little Napoleon complex; Poppy is the oldest who is more aloof and avoids the other pigs when she can and Penny, her daughter, is the blind, diabetic, curious and neurotic one. I know, it's a lot. Someday in my 30s, I'll have a dog. Right now, these guys are great.


Enter Kim, who just moved to Tucson from Erie. She visited me once last year at my old apartment and we had a nice weekend together. We walked around shopping plazas in Scottsdale (I thought I was in Old Town....I wasn't in Old Town) and went to Trader Joe's. We also had a lot of Mexican food. Then she went back to Tucson and then Erie. This year, she moved to Tucson permanently. 

I have known Kim since high school. We were partners in geometry class and then we became friends. I was wearing camo cargo pants I got at Kohl's in the young men's section (God I was stylish) and Kim had an emo/punk thing going on. And I was sort of pissed because I wanted to be partners with my high school crush, but Kim and I, ~ we were meant to be ~. 

Kim visited a few times before the pageant and we reconnected, over guinea pigs, alcohol, movies, Grubhub orders that oddly went missing. No one really spends the night with me anymore-


 But when Kim sleeps on my floor like my child who is somehow older than me, it's comforting. Even though she inevitably can't sleep and ends up watching Netflix. Or I fall asleep with Smores and she stays awake waiting for Smores to eat her hair. In reality all Smores does is burrow under my bed or next to the trashcan.

We've had some good times and it's great to have her around- I'll be going to visit her in Tucson in a few weeks in fact. It will be great; I just hope I don't get lost, end up in Mexico and YOU NEVER HEAR FROM ME AGAIN. Or read from me? Read from me. Okay.

I mentioned in passing in late September that the Phoenix guinea pig rescue would be having a pageant anyone with a pig(s) could participate in. Like, oh, haha. And when she suggested we do it, of course I was like OKAY. Not doing the math in my head, like I always do. Derr.

Then we solidified our plans and it was on. I even made it a Facebook event so you know shit was real. I discussed it with my coworkers, who talked about coming out to support the wheekers, Kim and me. They didn't, but I can't blame them. I also invited the ragtag group of friends I have here in Phoenix, having lived here nearly two years and having pretty much established my home here. They also did not show, but again.  YOLO. 

Kim and I entered the piggies online the week of the actual pig pageant, going back and forth about the categories to enter in. We had decided upon the theme of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or, should I say, Kim had a creative vision she was determined to chase.

"Are you doing any other categories?"
"Like what?"
"The wheeking contest? I entered that one. ENTER SMORES IN THE FASTEST CARROT EATER!"
"Uh..."

I just entered the guinea pigs I was in charge of in two categories. Now, Kim and I split the pigs in half to enter the pageant. I had my favorites (yeah SO WHAT shut up), Smores and Penny. Kim had Mocha and Poppy. I love all my pigs really, Mocha is just impossible for me to catch. She's so fast! Poppy is probably the one that's the hardest to warm up to since she just seriously sits in her igloo. All. Damn. Day.

Kim then said she was coming up Friday night to make the costumes with me and get ready, which made sense. Seeing as Kim lives in Tucson and that's kind of a long drive, I was fine with whatever she suggested. So, she came up Friday after work. I was exhausted and a bit flustered that evening. I blame the Mercury Retrograde. However, she was totally cool and understanding with me being upset, and even helped me out some. Which I truly appreciate.

We went to Michael's to buy supplies: It was the blind leading the blind. No matter what object we needed- be it glue stick, poster board, elastic, whatever- we somehow managed to find ourselves in the complete opposite end of the store. 

"Oh, I think I saw it THERE," one of us would point aisles away.

Shuffle, shuffle. Push shopping cart through Christmas and Halloween displays. Push past giddy sorority girls planning a project for their sorority. What do girls in sororities do anyway? All I know comes from lesbian porn.

We did this for about an hour before we got dinner and returned home to create the costumes. My roommates were on a camping trip, which is good, because otherwise they would have thought us insane. 

"What can I do?" I asked Kim as we readied the supplies. She raised an eyebrow.
"Hold the scissors." 

In the end, as indicated earlier, I made the spots for the shells. Hence why they aren't round.

"You know Britt, I had an idea about how we can get more votes," she said as the evening wore on. We were having Bud Lights and watching TV. I never watch TV anymore, so that took some adjusting to. 
"What's that?"
"Well, you can pretend to be special and I'll be your keeper. See? There's a TON of votes right there. We'll win the judges over. Everyone loves that kind of story."
Never change.
"NO!"

It's worth to note I was there while Kim watched her first episode of "Saved By the Bell." I'm not sure how she missed that, but it was on TV so we watched it. 

We also were watching "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" when Kim talked me into, in order to get over my ex, renaming one of the pigs. In the spirit of "It's Always Sunny," I renamed Poppy "Rumham." This is unlike Kim's nickname for her, which is "Broke Foot."

Mocha ended up being our model. Did she like it? Probably not. Is Mocha the most stable and less likely to pee of all the pigs? Probably. I don't like being a human toilet all the time.

It took us most of the evening to put the pigs' costumes together, but by 2 AM we were done and blurry-eyed. I passed out in my bed happily with Smores nesting on my stomach. Kim, meanwhile, did not sleep and was unnerved by Smores' presence for the night. Chatter chatter chatter.


At 4 AM, I was awake and so was Kim. We realized we had no ice for the guinea pigs for the pageant. I mean, it's Phoenix and we'd be in the sun for several hours. Piggies have a lot of fur. 

"I know I know!" I insisted, trying to make a solution that would lead to eternal happiness. I am a people-pleaser, you should know this by now! I am also an overprotective pigmom. I skidded out of bed and ran to where I kept my baggies. I then filled several with water and threw them in the freezer.

That idea did not work.

In the morning (read: two hours later), we decided to bite the bullet. We put some pig supplies in the nice Costco box I use as a guinea pig "holding tank" and got some water. Then, we headed to Mesa for the pageant. Me in my plaid shirt and Kim all gussied up. Kim is going to make a shirt that says "I like dick" that she can wear when we appear together in public. 

The piggies probably weren't too ecstatic to be in their carrier again, and peed several times to signify this. 

For breakfast, we stopped at Burger King and ate lunch food. I am just mentioning this because I saw Burger King has those new SATISFRIES. I plan on trying them and telling you if they were truly satisfrying or not.

Then, we arrived at the pig pageant, which was held at a pumpkin farm (makes sense; Halloween was a week away). Families with squealing, noisy kids were everywhere. Moms with strollers. And there was us, with our guinea pigs.

...

The guinea pig pageant was all the way in the back of the farm in an area with little shade and a lot of sunshine. When we arrived, the organizers were still setting up. Kim and I sat down in the grass. I took the piggies out individually and began giving them water. Pig owners then sat down next to us, and all of a sudden, I felt if I was driving a beat-up Hyundai in a crowd of Lexuses. Other guinea pig owners had little done-up habitats for them. They had carriers that were like PORSCHES. Now, I love my pigs, I do. But this is a little past my reasoning. It's like when I'm checking out at Safeway and the cashier is like "You must really love lettuce and cilantro" because it is all I buy.

About an hour after we were supposed to begin, the guinea pig people let us walk over to the picnic tables where the actual pageant was happening. Most of the shady spots were taken up by people working or merchandise. So, we settled for somewhere in the back. I pulled Smores out and showed her the other pigs setting up near us.

"LOOK SMORES," I cooed. "OTHER PIGS."

Smores, in typical guinea pig fashion, did not care. Bitch where is my lettuce she was probably thinking.

Some of these pigs were massive, by the way. Like I do not understand how guinea pigs get so large off the relatively vegetarian diet they eat, and all that poo!, but whatever.

It turned out that most of the 30-ish other people there were a hodgepodge of folks, but mostly families. And there was Kim and I, the non-romantic life partners.


Kim dropped out of the wheeking contest, which ended up being a good thing because everyone in that contest had to have been between the ages of 5 - 8. 

Some pig parents went all out for this competition. All out. Like, some of these costumes must have required blueprints. Kim and I? Our pigs looked good. but we hadn't crafted our guinea pig swords out of silver or made them superhero tights out of silk. 

But this was not "Best in Show" and this was not "Honey Boo Boo." This was the fucking 

Guinea Pig Pageant.

We were there to a.) have fun and b.) show off our cute pigs. Which is what we did.

Eventually, our contests arrived. Kim and I put our guinea pigs in their respective costumes. Some guinea pigs were more cooperative than others. The day of the actual pageant, Smores decided to be an asshole and Penny decided to have a nervous breakdown. Kids, right?



Penny just was not having it. At all. Penny is a pretty passive pig, but she is also blind so I think new situations are especially rough for her. The moment we walked up to the table with the other pigs. She lost it. 

WHEEK WHEEK WHEEK RUN WHEEK WHEEK JUMP AROUND SCREAM SO LOUD OTHER PEOPLE ACROSS THE FARM CAN HEAR IT EMBARRASS HOOMAN

Oh God it was mortifying. I did my best to calm her, but my face turned red and Equally Nervous Britt reared her shaky head. These people are going to think I abuse my guinea pigs! I thought as other owners glared at me.

"Does she want a carrot?" an older woman offered. "That might calm her down."
"Uh..."I was too flustered to say anything, and Kim and this woman chatted it up. Soon, she appeared with four carrots. One for each. She started to feed it to Penny, but I snapped.

"MY GUINEA PIG IS DIABETIC SHE CANNOT EAT THOSE," I screeched. The older woman grew mortified and drew away.

"Oh I didn't know," she said. Smores seized her opportunity to grab an extra carrot.

I felt a bit bad, since the woman had tried to help me and seemed nice. Kim had another perspective.

"She can't just go around feeding random guinea pigs carrots!" 

Penny then dove for my crotch. I clamped my legs around her to prevent her from falling, but. To say I had a guinea pig in between my legs isn't something I want to talk about. Let's keep going.

Mocha ended up placing third in the first contest, so I technically did not win. Kim did. And anyone who is an avid guinea pig fan adores little Mocha, who looks like a tiny Calico cat.

Or a bug sometimes.


"Why did she place and not the other pigs?" We wondered. "They all look exactly the same."

It probably did not help that Penny had a meltdown and Smores was uncooperative. 

We did not win any other medals that day. We were given participation ribbons, but that's like an honorable mention in kindergarten. What does it mean?!?!

We were given a bag of peppers for our victory though, and guinea pigs really can't eat hot peppers but they enjoyed the bell peppers. Really, pigs will eat anything. While writing this, Smores ran over to my toes and nibbled on them before I shooed her away.

A little girl had her own meltdown over losing a contest to someone else. It was like a little Veruca Salt. "DADDY, I WANT A GUINEA PIG!" The judges did their best to give her a consolation prize, but you really should let these kids learn early on that life is not fair. 

The people and pigs who walked away winners definitely deserved to, as they put in a lot of time and dedication, and you could see their love for their pets really showed. As for us, we had fun. Maybe not so much the pigs. Toward the end, all our guinea pigs started to get a little slow and tired. I sprayed water on them, and they all ate a huge head of lettuce upon coming home, so trust me! The wheekers were rewarded. 

Someone also decided to bring a dog to the pageant, which to me is like bringing a cannibal to a nudist beach.

So in the end, nearly everyone walked away from the pig pageant a winner. Even Kim and I were winners. For a short, brief glorious while.

Next year, if we choose to return as contenders, we are leaving Penny alone with a bottle of wine and one VHS copy of "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead."

Addendum: Penny was later approached by a little girl who must have helped take care of her at the shelter. It was pretty adorable.





p.s.




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