Guinea pigs, porcellini, cochons d’Inde, conejillos

La stravaganza di ieri - Valentina, watercolor and marker by William Eaton, April 2020English original, then versions in Italiano, Français and Español. This little script was written, during these months of confinement, for an Italian actress, Valentina Carlone, who has been modeling for me via Zoom. All credit for the Italian version goes to her, and the painting shown at right is of her as well. The “A” and “M” of the characters stand for Artist and Model, but really it could be any two people chatting. For the hard news and castrated males of this story, please see the Notes.

What the hell!

A: You know the Swiss passed a law – you can’t have just one guinea pig.
M: You can’t have just one guinea pig?
A: Have to have at least two.
M: Why is that?
A: Pigs get lonely.
M: So you have to have two.
A: At least two. The Swiss are politely overlooking how, if you have just two – cooped up in the same cage every day –
M: They’ll get on each other’s nerves.
A: Exactly.
M [smiling]: So they’re going to have to pass a new law – you can’t have two guinea pigs, you have to have at least three.
A: Two’s company, three’s a crowd.
M: Before – when I was young – we used to say that all the time!
A: If we went out as a couple, . . . well, that could be fun, but if a third person tagged along –
M: He –
A: Or she –
M: Is in the way. So the Swiss are going to have to pass a law saying – ?
A: If one, two and three doesn’t work, how much hope do you have for four? It’s like Sartre said –
M: What?
A: Hell is other guinea pigs.

Italiano

Ma che diavolo!

A: Sai che gli svizzeri hanno approvato una legge? Non si può avere un solo porcellino d’India.
M: Non si può avere un solo porcellino?
A: Devi averne almeno due.
M: Perché?
A: I porcellini si sentono soli.
M: Quindi devi averne due.
A: Almeno due. Quello di cui gli svizzeri non si rendono conto è che se ne hai solo due – rinchiusi nella stessa gabbia ogni giorno –
M: Si innervosiranno a vicenda.
A: Esattamente.
M [sorridendo]: Quindi dovranno approvare una nuova legge – non puoi avere due porcellini, devi averne almeno tre.
A: Due sono di compagnia, tre sono una folla.
M: Quando ero giovane lo dicevamo sempre!
A: Se noi uscissimo insieme… beh, potrebbe essere divertente, ma se una terza persona si unisse –
M: Lui –
A: O lei –
M: Sarebbe d’intralcio. Quindi gli svizzeri dovranno approvare una legge che dica – ?
A: Se un, due e tre non funzionano, c’è speranza per quattro? È come ha detto Sartre –
M: Cosa?
A: L’inferno sono gli altri porcellini.

Français

Et puis merde !

A : Tu sais que les Suisses ont adopté une loi – tu ne peux pas avoir un seul cochon d’Inde.
M : Je ne peux pas avoir un seul cochon d’Inde ?
A : Il faut en avoir au moins deux.
M : Pourquoi ?
A : Les cochons se sentent seuls.
M : Il faut donc en avoir deux.
A : Au moins deux. Ce que les Suisses préfèrent ignorer c’est que si tu n’en as que deux – enfermés dans la même cage tous les jours –
M : Ils vont se taper sur les nerfs.
A : Exactement.
M [souriant] : Les suisses vont donc devoir adopter une nouvelle loi – vous ne pouvez pas avoir deux cobayes, vous devez en avoir au moins trois.
A : Deux, c’est de la compagnie, trois, c’est une foule.
M : Avant – quand j’étais jeune – on disait ça tout le temps !
A : Si on sortait ensemble… ça pourrait être amusant, mais si une troisième personne nous suivait –
M : Il –
A : Ou elle –
M : Est dans le chemin. Les Suisses vont donc devoir adopter une loi disant – ?
A : Si un, deux et trois ne fonctionnent pas, quel espoir as-tu pour quatre ? C’est comme Sartre l’a dit –
M : Quoi ?
A: L’enfer, c’est les autres cochons.

Español

¡Qué demonios!

A: Sabes que los suizos aprobaron una ley, no puedes tener un solo conejillo de indias.
M: ¿No puedes tener un solo conejillo de indias?
A: Hay que tener al menos dos.
M: ¿Por qué?
A: Los conejillos se sienten solos.
M: Así que tienes que tener dos.
A: Al menos dos. Lo que los suizos prefieren ignorar es que si sólo tienes dos, encerrados en la misma jaula todos los días…
M: Se pondrán nerviosos el uno al otro.
A: Exactamente.
M [sonriendo]: Así que van a tener que aprobar una nueva ley – no puedes tener dos conejillos, tienes que tener al menos tres.
A: Dos son compañía, tres son multitud.
M: Antes, cuando era joven, decíamos eso ¡todo el tiempo!
A: Si salimos en pareja… bueno, podría ser divertido, pero si una tercera persona nos acompaña…
M: Él…
A: O ella…
M: ¡Es mal tercio! Así que los suizos van a tener que aprobar una ley que diga…
A: Si uno, dos y tres no funcionan, ¿cuántas esperanzas tienes para cuatro? Es como dijo Sartre –
M: ¿Qué?
A: El infierno son los otros conejillos.
 
— Script(s), watercolor and crayon drawing below by William Eaton, with the invaluable assistance of Valentina Carlone!

Notes

Treed but good, crayon drawing by William Eaton, 2020For more on Swiss law regarding guinea pigs and many other animals, see Fact check: Lonely guinea pigs and other quirky Swiss rumours, by Thomas Stephens, from swissinfo.ch, 4 July 2019. Guinea pigs are hardly the only creatures covered by the 182-page Swiss animal protection ordinance, passed in 2008. The species that must be kept in groups of at least two animals include rats, degus, chinchillas, parakeets, parrots and lovebirds. The Swiss are also not allowed to force domestic poultry to wear glasses or contact lenses. (Stay tuned for the next script!)

As an uncastrated man, I may also have to train such wit as I have on this comment, presumably in translation, from the Swiss Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office: “An ideal guinea pig group comprises two or three females and a castrated male.” It is only in recent decades that “science,” such as it is, could embrace such a conclusion.

Other Montaigbakhtinian poetry posts that include Italian versions:

Finally, while Valentina and I were working on this little script, a neighbor of mine sent me a texto to say that she’d temporarily left New York to go live with her father and near her sister’s family. Her conclusion: “can be challenging to be alone, can be challenging to be with ppl!!” Amen.

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