ValueSpeak
A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker

DOING GOOD

Dave and Judy are do-gooders. There's no other way to put it.

For as long as I've known them they've just gone around doing good in their home with their family, in their neighborhoods, in their local schools and in the communities in which they have lived. Ask anyone who knows them and they'll tell you the same thing.

Dave and Judy do good.

Which makes it all the more interesting when one of their sincere attempts to do good goes bad.

As we speak, Dave and Judy are doing missionary work for their church on one of the islands of the South Pacific (see what I mean? Do-gooders!).

They are having a wonderful time among people they have grown to love and admire. And the people have accepted them because they are so . . . well, you know . . . do-good-ish.

Recently they were invited to attend a birthday party for one of the island teenagers. It was a fun and exciting event, and Dave and Judy were asked to sit as guests of honor at the head table. According to island tradition, the main course at the party was pig.

No, not ham. Pig. A whole pig. One per couple.

And not just the meaty part. Oh, no. These islanders consider the skin and fat of the pig to be a particular delicacy, and they enthusiastically helped Dave and Judy pile about four pounds of the stuff on their plates.Judy looked at Dave, smiling that do-gooder smile of hers, and whispered: "Help!"

Dave smiled back. "Don't worry," he said.

During the course of the meal, Dave discreetly wrapped pieces of pig skin and fat in napkins, slid them under the table and stuffed them in his socks.

He and Judy both got pretty adept at smiling, laughing and enjoying the parts of the pig they were comfortable eating, while carefully eliminating the parts they couldn't bring themselves to eat. And they were truly enjoying the hospitality of their hosts, and the relish with which they ate and celebrated.

"They could teach us a thing or two about really enjoying a meal," Judy said.

Just as the meal was winding down and Dave thought he was going to be able to empty the load that was weighing down his socks, a cry went up that made his blood run cold: "Time for dancing!" High energy island music began playing, and friends began tugging Dave and Judy onto the floor.

"I wish you could have seen the look on Dave's face," Judy said after the fact. "He hates to waltz, let alone island dancing."

But Dave's biggest worry wasn't the dancing. With all the energetic movement required in island dancing, he suddenly had visions of napkins full of pig fat flying out of his socks and exploding on the dance floor. How would he explain that to his gracious hosts perhaps an old American custom of wearing pig fat in your socks for luck? That made sense, he thought for everyone but the pig.

Thankfully, he made it through the dance without launching one pig fat bomb. Truth be told, he actually had a pretty good time dancing heavily laden socks notwithstanding. Still, he and Judy immediately went out and bought a bigger, stronger pair of socks for Dave to wear to the next birthday party.

Hey, even do-gooders need a little extra insurance now and then.


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--- © Joseph Walker

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Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through www.Amazon.com.