Anyone who has taken a prized fish or mammal to the taxidermist has experienced the long, anxious wait for that all-important call. Mine came Tuesday.
"Mr. Pavey, this is Southland Taxidermy," the voice on the answering machine said. "We wanted to let you know your pig is ready."
I was excited; the eight-month wait was over.
The boar, dispatched last December, was a whopper, weighing almost 300 pounds with long, curled, yellow-brown tusks.
My 11-year-old stepsons hunted with me that day, and as the dark form crossed a clearcut at the edge of the swamp, Ian watched through the binoculars and whispered, "You need to shoot that one."
After we recruited some help dragging and loading the smelly beast, both boys lobbied to have it mounted.
"We can put it in our room," Forrest said.
"Think how much fun you'll have when Mommy sees it," said Ian.
Thus, the decision was made. And on Tuesday, the old porker came home.
The boys and I drove out to fetch the mount, and it was every bit as beautiful and captivating as we had imagined. We were so pleased, in fact, that we ran it by my in-laws' house, where a family dinner was under way with relatives from out of town.
"Whaddya think?" I asked, as we showed the snarling hog to those gathered at the dinner table.
"It's, uh, fine," said my stunned mother-in-law.
My wife was a little less diplomatic.
"It's hideous," she said. "It's the ugliest thing I've ever seen."
The same evening, I had a cookout to attend at our hunting club, so we took the hog along to show my fellow hunters. There, at least, I knew I could count on a warmer reception.
"Good-lookin' mount," my friend Stuart said as he flipped burgers on a hissing grill. Then he grinned. "Your wife gonna let you hang that thing in the house?"
I replied that I certainly hoped so. Then I started expounding about how wild boar were highly regarded as the most worthy wild game adversary throughout Europe, where noblemen have hunted them since the Middle Ages.
Such a trophy, I imagined, should be at least as welcome at home as the sausage and hams we frequently enjoy from such creatures.
In my mind, the hog could hang over the fireplace - or perhaps occupy an expanse of unused wall space above the refrigerator.
"It would look great against that maroon background," I told my wife, complimenting her choice of color on the tall kitchen walls.
"It would look better if you took it out back and buried it," she replied.
Then I tried the spiel about how revered wild boar were throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, and how - to this day - the finest meat shops in central Italy all have mounted boar as their fearsome mascots.
"This isn't the Middle Ages," she said. "And we don't live in a butcher shop."
The boar spent the first night in the laundry room, with nothing but dirty clothes and the cat's litter box to keep it company. The next day, I tried to renegotiate a more dignified location.
"C'mon," I implored. "Haven't you ever heard of compromise?"
"OK, we'll compromise," she said. "How 'bout the garage? Or the basement?"
The basement, I thought, wasn't so bad. The old boar would be in the company of some worthy whitetails and other mementos of seasons past.
But it really perplexed me that she didn't want the boar in the kitchen. Now she's got me worried. I hope she likes the stuffed armadillo end table lamps I ordered for her birthday.
Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.