Saturday, May 8, 2010
Cavy culture - an oxymoronic moment
Today I stumbled upon a most unusual subculture in downtown Bear Swamp. And for the moment, I felt as though some mysterious force suddenly plucked me from the suburbs and teleported me to a one-toothed town in Kentucky.
Before me bustled dozens of women and men in flannel shirts and bad hairstyles, humming along to Kenny Chesney and buzzing about the shiny coat on that studly Peruvian: “Honestly, what does she use to get such a sheen…”
Here I had been, knocking around the flea market outside in search of designer herbs for my garden when I spotted a small crowd of people milling inside the park building. To think I had almost missed this cabal of nervous pageant moms and dads, quite unlike any I had ever seen on television. Their contestants, however, didn’t seem to feel the same pressure. Instead, they quietly chewed on kibble, scurried in circles, squealed at one another.
Welcome to the world of cavy pageants.
You know, cavies—the South American rodent of sturdy body, referred to by the civilized world as “guinea pigs.” Basically, a second cousin to the rat. Owners doted on their animals, which were kept in coops atop tables. Some had a handful of critters; others appeared to bring along a dozen or more.
Now, I’m not trying to be too judgmental here, but how can one resist? I watched in silent shock as owners primped their pets to go head-to-head for “rosettes,” small fancy ribbons in numerous categories: Silkie. Teddy. Satin. Silky Satin. Teddy Satin. Silkie wearing a Satin Teddy. Honestly, it sounded like a salacious Victoria’s Secret trunk show, but only with fashion-deprived women in polyester blends from Kohl’s.
If your guinea pig took top honors—Best in Show—you could walk away with 75 bucks and a camping chair. Heck, if your “youth” pig captured Best in Show, you not only pocketed 60 bucks, but a large Hershey kiss.
The pigs also battled it out in costume categories, dressing up as their favorite historical person, athlete, or fantasy character. (Hats were optional.)
But no, organizers from the Mid-Atlantic Cavy Breeders Association (yes, it's authentic) couldn’t just stop there. As if costumes on big hamsters weren’t enough.
No. The true and elusive top honor was Sexiest Sow, the pageant highlight in which grown men and women primped and groomed their female adults to exude sex appeal. Just picture it: some bootylicious critter ba-donk wiggling down the runway… Funny how I always thought French lingerie ranked pretty high on the scale of sultriness. Silly rabbit.
As I looked around, I shot a few pictures for proof and wondered if the woman wearing a tiara and crisp sash would bestow the honors on the medalists. Soon, I headed back outside to scour for diverse basils and treasures from the past. Granted, some people may think I’m just as foolish with my time and my financial investment in antiques.
But at least I wasn’t wearing flannel or dressing a 16-ounce furball in it either. Heck, the pigs deserve some dignity, too.