Thoughts on Boris, Whitney, Addiction, Fame, and Meanness

Today, after simmering the skull for another bunch of hours yesterday, I will be picking the last of the meat off it and finally making the head cheese and the scrapple.  I’m also cooking the broth down a bit more to concentrate the gelatin. 

I found out a bit more about the pig we are processing.  I thought, when Bill referred to the skull as “Boris” the other day that he’d just come up with a fairly appropriate-sounding name for a large pig with trimmed tusks and slightly rodent-like front teeth.  Turns out the name was more than appropriate, it was the pig’s real name. 

Boris was a pet.  He wasn’t raised for meat at all.  The guy that owned him was forced to have Boris slaughtered because of a zoning change in the town.  Suddenly it was no longer legally permissible to keep a pig on one’s property.  I don’t know if Boris’s owner had any other options, or if he’d tried and found that there weren’t any other people in other, pig-welcoming towns that wanted to welcome a 700 pound male pig into the fold.  All I do know is that the man who owned Boris considered him a friend.  And I learned that the reason the cost per pound was so low was because this man didn’t want to profit from his pig’s death.  He just wanted enough money to cover the cost of slaughter.

I never met Boris when he was alive.  But just knowing that he was a pet, a friend…I find that I feel more respectful, even reverent, as I go about the business of creating food for our family from Boris’s remains.  I don’t know how to describe it.  But I’m trying.  It’s pork.  But it was Boris.  And maybe the fact that this pork had a name once, and a personality, and a human family, of sorts…I am glad that while alive, Boris had a good life.  I’m sad that his owner was forced to have him killed.  I’m grateful that we have a lot of meals in our freezer as a result. 

Respectful.  Reverent.  Grateful.

I guess that’s what I’m feeling.  And it’s what I think we should all feel for our food.  Whatever it is.  Wherever it comes from.


I was sad to learn of Whitney Houston’s death the other night.  Surprised, and not.

In the few days since, I’ve read a range of articles and comments online, and you know, it never ceases to amaze and sadden me at how many mean people there are out there who just have to say something ugly, or something derogatory not only about Whitney Houston’s downward spiral, but about the people who mourn her.  Why do people have to do that?  What purpose does it serve?  How does it help?  It doesn’t. 

I’m sad that Whitney Houston died.  Too young – only 48.  And too late to turn her life around.  I mourn the loss that happened before she died.  The loss of that youth and vibrancy and life and potential.  Addiction is an ugly, horrible, ruthless monster.  The fallout is far-reaching and not just restricted to the person with the addiction.  It’s agonizing to watch.  It’s heartbreaking to feel helpless as it takes its toll.

I remember one comment someone wrote – that Whitney Houston was a train wreck, and why are people all sad about that? 

Maybe they’re sad because it’s sad to see someone destroy herself.  It’s sad to watch gorgeous life become gnarled and twisted.  This woman was someone’s newborn baby.  She was a little girl who, at some point in her early years, probably had that gap-toothed smile most kids get when they lose both front teeth within a matter of days.  She played and colored and maybe didn’t like brussels sprouts…and she sang.  She sang, and she soared. 

She was also a mother.  A mom.  She leaves behind a daughter.  A daughter who, if what I’ve read is true, also struggles with her own addiction problems.  Addiction runs – or staggers – in families.  Of course it does. 

So when I am saddened by the death of Whitney Houston, I mourn the little girl she once was, I mourn the loss of that beautiful voice.  I mourn the comeback that never came, and now, never will.  I mourn for her daughter, who, on top of her own inherited demons, has also lost her mom.  I can’t imagine what Whitney’s mom is going through.

It’s so easy to be flippant about the untimely deaths of celebrities.  We don’t know them – they are just images and sound bites and performances.  They are easy to point at and make pronouncements about.    We give ourselves permission to be harshly critical – hey, they wanted fame, this is what goes with it.  We give ourselves permission not to see them as people.  We give ourselves permission to become schoolyard bullies, but from a great, great safe distance.  Two-legged piranhas, we rip them apart – every flaw, every mistake, every bad hair day, every fashion faux pas, every struggle, every fall, every attempt to come back, every failure, every death – out there for all to see, all to judge, all to mock.

How well would any of us hold up under such scrutiny?

Be gentle.

12 thoughts on “Thoughts on Boris, Whitney, Addiction, Fame, and Meanness

  1. Thanks; lovely thoughts on Whitney Houston’s tragic death–and some very lady-like observations on the hateful people who feel the need to spew their venom online. You’re much nicer than I am!
    Have a great day, even if it is filled with picking the flesh off a skull!

  2. You know I was tearing up reading about Boris? That is a sad thing to know that he was a beloved pet – and SHAME on that community to not allow pigs as pets! I don’t understand residental zoning laws, as long as the animal is not being destructive to another’s property I don’t understand the reasoning to not be allowed to have it.
    It boils down to non-traditional animals being considered “nuisance” animals. Which is all bollocks.

    And I wholeheartedly agree about Whitney – the comeback that never came. ;_;

  3. You know, I was sad about Whitney also… I didn’t put the thought of “she was a person first, then a celebrity next” though,either, until your words opened my eyes … It makes her such a target and easy to make the “who cares” thoughts… Maybe most people put to much emphasis on to their own experiences first, So there would be no need to show compassion for anybody else… People are bullies, and they rub it off to who ever is vulnerable. It’s contagious… I thought what you wrote was very moving, and not just because it was Whitney, but because it happens to all..
    Very eloquently thoughtful… Thank you for the insightful read… Wow, I felt very sad for Boris, but what better way to honor him by letting him be of use! To Take care of others! Beautiful!

  4. I’m an alcoholic, and it took me a long time to realize that. Even longer to accept it and start doing something about it. And while I have found many friends in AA (I’m even living with one now!) it’s still a very sad disease, because when you see someone go out and kill themselves, or almost kill themselves, due to our addiction, you don’t know what to do. You give them and their loved ones support and love because that’s all you can do, sometimes.

  5. To clarify that a bit – I embrace aspects of just about all religions and philosophies; it tends to be the whole “organized” aspect that turns me off at the same time. So I am spiritual in my own way, but I don’t say “I’m _____” because I’m not that fond of labels.

  6. I teared up reading about the forced issue with Boris…very, very sad…and Whitney? What else can be said…? Also sad. Surrounded by an entourage who let it happen. Crazy enabling entourage. yuk.

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