You are about to unlock the secret to all human interaction. I’m going to teach you how to improve any situation, instantly. It is a story almost twenty years in the making. It changed my life. It will change yours, and whether that becomes your blessing or curse will depend upon your moral fiber. It involves a corkscrew and a bonfire.
It was 1995 and I was a junior in high school. During a trip to the Costco in Twin Falls, Idaho—we often drove from Elko, Nevada, more than two hours, just to get the big bags of chips—we took a break in the movie theater. What was playing? Babe.
At the climax, the little pig trots to the feet of the taciturn, kindly Farmer Hoggett. The farmer looks down at him, smiles, almost smiles, and says…
But no. Not yet.
The lights came up, we went to Costco and got the big chips, we drove back to Nevada, and nearly two decades passed before Babe would show me the path, showering me with clarity and light.
I was working in a different library system that the one where I currently hold sway (I’m in Salt Lake City). I was twenty eight years old. I spent my days listening to a malcontent employee yammer away about all and naught. One day, he began to yowl. The offense? Someone asked if he could possibly turn down the volume on the Black Sabbath song that was playing on the stereo behind the desk. He refused, and then held forth for some time about injustice and hate.
He also liked the books of Nicholas Sparks.
I don’t claim to be a mystic. I don’t even claim to know what mysticism means. But as the diatribe ramped up and the sun began to set, I floated out of my body. I watched him talking to my body from a great height. Then I descended, dragged back down into myself. I watched his mouth move. I watched his hands wave. He may have even stomped his little foot. And the voice of Farmer Hoggett, James Cromwell, filled my brain with a tripartite-plus-contraction-with-apostrophe solution:
“That’ll do pig.”
He had said it to Babe, and now he was saying it to me. I heard those words. I thought them. I did not yet know that I would soon be living them.
The fussy man in front of me ceased to exist. I smiled. I laughed. I did a little soft-shoe and skipped to my truck when my shift ended.
En route, someone cut me off. They yelled at me when we stopped together at a red light. “Learn how to drive!”
That’ll do pig. I thought the words. I said them aloud to myself. When the light turned green, my truck rumbled forward, but his car stopped with four suddenly, inexplicably flat tires.
The next day at work I would get a less-than-incandescent performance review. Josh seems content to be adequate.
That’ll do pig I thought at the Arial font. By day’s end, the entire Human Resources Department begged my forgiveness, but I fired them all with vindictive glee.
The next day I was out in the sun for too long. My skin began to burn and peel. I stared at the sun.
That’ll do pig.
The next day my skin wasn’t burned, but a pleasing shade of Firefox orange.
I opened my copy of How To Avoid Huge Ships by John Trimmer, fully aware that I’d never successfully internalized its lessons, and my schooner’s prow had paid the splintery price for my inattentiveness.
That’ll do pig. I read it in nine minutes, flung the sails up into the masts, and not only did I avoid all the huge ships, I calmed the seas entire.
I turned on my television and saw that Roadhouse was on. There was so much feathered hair that it was like an aviary. “Nobody wins a fight,” says Patrick Swayze. Sneering ensued from the hoodlums.
That’ll do pig. They all started fighting. They all won the fight. The feathering of each hairstyle increased by several orders of magnitude.
At the mall a beady-eyed deviant detached himself from a kiosk and tried to put dead sea salt on my hands.
That’ll do pig. Several thousand gallons of the actual Dead Sea washed through the building. He would eventually alight upon an atoll comprising striped Johnny Cash onesies from Hot Topic and Samurai swords from a weird little boutique that also sells frog-shaped collanders.
When I left the building, Nicholas Sparks was standing there on the hood of a car trying to get everyone’s attention. “I am a genre of one,” he said. “I write what is called, by me, “‘love tragedy.’”
“Bah! That’s not a thing!” That’ll do pig. Every romance novel Sparks has written tore through the air, landing at my feet in the parking lot. A bonfire blazed, its source unknown to all but myself. As Sparks crawled away, several children grabbed curbside garbage cans and upended them over his head. He whimpered, shriveled, vanished…
That night, I felt as though I’d been there at the world’s creation. And I had said, “Here’s how it’s all going to go.”
That’ll do pig.
It works. It is the Law of Attraction, but real. It is Anthony Robbins, but short and sweet.
PS: Pigs, and we must include Babe in the data set, have corkscrew-shaped penises. This is a question I actually answered at the library.