How unfortunate Neil Diamond

When the good times just aren’t so good

This little story could also be referred to as The Piglet Incident. A formative episode in my youth that still bubbles up from time to time. Whether at a college baseball game or karaoke house party.

I was young. Tiny. Maybe 5 years old. A town kid spending the day on the farm with my grandpa, the farmer. I was riding around with him in his small pickup as he drove around the sprawling farm doing various chores. Checking the corn, collecting the eggs, herding the cows. There was just one last stop before going in for lunch. We had to feed the pigs.

We drove to a big barn located next to the pen where all the pigs were kept. I decided to stay in the pickup. It was turned off but the keys remained in the ignition so I could listen to the radio. My grandpa got out and went over to the pen. He unlatched the gate and walked in. And then it happened.

I looked out the window of the pickup as he walked into the pen and saw his German Shepard sneak in behind him. And as the radio played “Sweet Caroline” that big dog burst into a pack of pigs and latched onto a tiny piglet.

SQUEALS! Squeals so loud the sounds overpowered the chorus that played on the radio. Good times never seemed so good was mixing haphazardly with high-pitched cries and animal mob commotion.

Blood sprayed onto the ground. The big German Shepard gripped the tiny piglet in its jaws. My grandpa yelled, ran over to the dog, grabbed it by the collar, and pulled it towards the exit. Along the way, the piglet fell from the jaws and flopped onto the ground. Lifeless.

As the gate closed and the dog was reprimanded, the good times sung about in that rich, cool baritone of the great Neil Diamond instead seemed so cruel. Sitting in the pickup, shocked at the ferocious attack I’d just witnessed, a joyful melody filling the air, the only thing I could do was stare intently at the dead piglet. Perhaps that’s when I first learned about irony.

Recently, at a karaoke party, a brave soul got up there and did two Neil Diamond songs, including “Sweet Caroline.” He did a fine job, but I wasn’t really into it, as the memory of The Piglet Incident resurfaced. I didn’t let him in on the story. This particular karaoke performer really like Neil Diamond. No need to make his good times any less good.