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Lipstick on a Pig
For a time I’ve wondered how
A boy as young as I
Could understand and even now
The question still is why
The rope hung from the beam so high
Impossible to master
But every kid would give a try
Just waiting for disaster.
So my time came and struggling hard
I tugged and strained and failed
Then quickly I set up my guard
For the teacher’s shaming tale.
He was fat and smelled a bit
And loved to let us know
About our failure as we’d sit
And listen to him blow
Soon it was my time to hear
About my effort bad
His rant and rave increased my fear
It seemed like he was mad
Climbing higher, I worked each day
And extra time was spent
I told him I was on my way
My message to him sent
And then he spoke that crazy phrase
“You can put lipstick on a pig”
And with a deadly, hateful gaze
He said “But it’s still a pig”
I was stunned, and lacking words
I turned and walked away
The words he spoke, that I had heard
Meant nothing on that day.
When I got home I asked my Dad
What the pig phrase means
“Appearance will not change” he said
“The way true nature’s seen.”
In other words, the looks may change
But rarely do you see
Nature move to change it’s range
Converting what will be.
The gym man was telling me
My efforts had no worth
I could not change nor better be
No way in Heaven or Earth
As time went by I gained in strength
And soon I was on top
It mattered not the rope’s full length
‘Cause up the rope I’d hop
Of course I was much older then
And never got to tell
The gym boss what I thought of him
That day when he would yell
But life goes on and soon forgotten
My adventures in the gym
And healed was my memory rotten
Of my rope climb and of him.
Many years later on semester break
My college senior year
At a bar I stopped to take
Time-out and drink a beer
The pub was empty except for one
Sitting alone in the dark
Into the gym boss I had run
So on the barstool I’d park.
I spoke and said “How are you friend?"
He did not recognize me
I said, “Tell me how you’ve been"
He squinted hard to see
Soon we were in a full-on chat
He talked of how his life
Had turned and pinned him to the mat
He’s lost his job and wife.
But he was going to turn around
His life and all his loss
Cleaning up his act he’d found
The problems and the costs.
I told him that I wished him well
Those changes would be tough
I said that I once heard a tale
How change was really rough
But trying and effort is a must
Your change will be so big
I said be sure you’re not just
Putting lipstick on a pig.
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