The social contract

One of Dad’s favorite topics, of which I am reminded almost every time I see him and about which I should have written long ago, is “the social contract.” This was another of his favorite themes upon which to expound before us kids and which we really did not understand until many years later. Basically, it boils down to two simple rules: 1) Root, hog, or die!, and 2) Don’t shit where you eat. For a long time, I wasn’t sure if the aforementioned “hog” was being used as an appositive; i.e. “If you don’t root, hog, you will die;” or as a verb, as in, “You have three choices: to root, to hog, or to die.” Now I understand that it is, indeed, the former, although the cynic in me still thinks the latter might apply in today’s world. So, if you don’t work to feed yourself, you will die. A quaint idea that seems to have fallen out of fashion, although it has stood many of us in good stead as a rule to live by.  As for Rule #2, I believe the first time I heard my dad use this admonition it had to do with the dangerous and foolhardy liaison between a young man and the boss’s wife. There’s a literary device called “synesthesia” with which a writer creates a feeling or image by connecting and almost equating/confusing two sensory details; for example, a blue smell or a musical caress. Rule #2 applies synesthesia to bodily functions, thus delivering a vivid vernacular punch.

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