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Memoir Nonfiction

For sale: Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs

Gary from Virginia (who doesn’t own pigs) posts a Craigslist ad in California with Cal’s phone number (who also doesn’t own pigs)

Craigslist. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Back when your first friend on social media was Tom from MySpace, Craigslist was a well known selling site on the Internet.

Looking for a deal on a used bicycle somewhere nearby? Enter Craigslist.

Have an old couch you want to get rid of? Craigslist at your service.

Craigslist still exists but this was back when the site was more known for a good deal in your neighborhood than a serial killer looking to meet you in your neighborhood.

When its popularity was at an all-time high, my cousin Gary decided to post an ad:

For sale: Vietnamese pot-bellied piglets

Contact owner at (XXX) XXX-XXXX

There was a short description under the ad pertaining to the cost. Gary had done his research and made sure the going rate was in line with the market with a touch of a better deal.

The thing is, Gary didn’t own any Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs or piglets. So he put down Cal’s name and phone number, the latter being something you never did on Craigslist, even then.

You may remember Cal from this story of a cat named Leon Phelps which urinated on him at Jeremiah’s apartment.

Cal Adams (left) and Gary Hamlett (right) at a motorcycle rally

Cal was Gary’s best friend. They go way back. At Gary’s request, Cal, decked out in a suit at 2 AM, once tried to ride a donkey they spotted in a pasture off the side of the road following a wedding party celebration.

Cal once borrowed my uncle Butch’s cooler only to have a buzzard fly into his truck window and vomit on him and the cooler. (It’s a buzzard defense mechanism)

The day Cal moved out of his apartment in…

Anyway, back to the story.

Craigslist is set up based on locations throughout the United States. For example, in Virginia, which is where I’m from and the same for Gary and Cal, you can post to cities like Richmond, Charlottesville, Roanoke, etc.

Gary from Virginia (posing as Cal) posted his Vietnamese pot-bellied pig ad in California, the most populated state in America.

California is three hours behind Virginia.

He picked California so I would receive calls at random times of the day and night, Cal said in an email to me, adding that the phone calls went on for a solid month.

I knew the story well.

“Call Cal,” Gary said to me one night fifteen years ago. “Ask him how his piggly wigglies are doing.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” I asked. “Cal owns pigs now?”

With a straight face that immediately slipped into a smile then into a wheezing laugh that could make anyone laugh in turn, Gary replied, “Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs. Tell him you want half a dozen.”

“What?”

Until he came clean on his Craigslist prank to Cal, that’s all Gary would ever say and he would say it every time you saw him.

“You talked to Cal lately? How are his pigs?”

A year after he spilled the beans on his Craigslist prank, he would still bring up the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig ad.

Fast forward five years later: we go on a canoe trip together. Me, Gary, Robbie, and a slew of other friends stop along the riverbank for a bite to eat. My buddy Rick Williams pulled out a can of Vienna sausage and a pack of saltine crackers.

“I hope those aren’t Cal’s pigs,” Gary said. “Oh, wait. Those are from Vienna, not Vietnam. You can proceed.”

Rick looked perplexed.

“Funny story,” I said. “Gary, you want to tell it?”

Tomorrow, March 26, marks a year since Gary passed. Not a day goes by I don’t think about him. Rest in peace dude and tell Jeremiah not to turn the grapes into wine.

Special thanks to Cal for rehashing the memory with me and for the photos. I hope this story jars some good memories for folks who read it. We none truly ever die. We are a continuation of those we love and those we’ve lost.

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By Jeffrey Pillow

Jeffrey Pillow is an American short story writer, memoirist, and poet. He is the author of The Lady Next Door. His writing has been published in Urge Magazine, The Nervous Breakdown, 16 Blocks, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, TheBody.com, New York Times, Washington Post, and Richmond Times-Dispatch.

He grew up in the small town of Phenix, Virginia, population: 200, and now lives in Charlottesville with his wife, two kids, and a dog named Mozzarella Cheese. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he was a Rainey Scholar. This is his blog.