The Pig Roast at the Danny Woo Garden is an annual event that brings together people, young and old, for an evening of food and celebration. The pig roast was started 38 years ago by “Uncle” Bob Santos, one of Seattle’s most iconic Asian-American activists. Since then, the event has become one of the most celebrated traditions in the International District.
This was my second year attending the pig roast and it was magical, but by the next morning sleep deprivation had led to sporadic giddiness, hallucinations and memory loss. I’ve had to piece together the actual timeline of event through friends, status updates and photos.
Friday, 6:00 pm: I randomly bump into Randon, one of the event organizers, and Steve, who loved the Pig Roast so much that he flew in from San Francisco just to attend. They were loading the 165 pound pig into the car and asked if I wanted to help haul it up to the garden. I took a good look at that pig, which I judged to weigh more than me. “Nope, I’m gonna go to happy hour and drink instead.”
Saturday, 1:00 am: My friend Justin introduced me to Geeyeon, who is a student studying pharmacy at the UW. I mentioned that one of my friends is a pharmacist working at the Valley Medical Center in Kent. “That’s where I intern!” she replied.
Chance encounters like this remind me about a time before we used Facebook to connect with one another. If anything, Facebook would have gotten in the way. She would have seen my profile, noticed a lot of random blog posts about Asians and thought “Weirdo. Probably English major. No future.” But instead, we had a lively conversation and were both reminded how small the world actually is.
Later I texted my friend to check if he knew Geeyeon. “Hey, do u work with an intern from UW, girl, Asian. Pharmacist.” He replied that there are four people that fit that description—which made me laugh because (you know) all Asians look alike and are good at science. “She’s from California,” I added. “That’s Geeyeon then. She’s pretty cool,” he confirmed.
3:00 am: My friend Brandon, who I invited a week earlier, finally arrived. It took a lot of arm twisting to convince Brandon to come because he was concerned about being the only White person there. “There will absolutely be other White people at the pig roast,” I assured him. In truth I had no idea and would have told him Hello Kitty was coming if that’s what it took. Despite my personal assurance, Brandon still felt compelled to bring another friend along as a buffer.
4:00 am: “I’m gonna take a quick power nap on the cot,” announced Randon. We didn’t see him again for another four hours. I was pissed because I brought the cot and it wasn’t large enough for a big spoon and a little spoon.
8:20 am: The pig was pretty much done by now—more than 12 hours after we started. This was an exciting moment that I wanted to share with all my friends who weren’t able to come out, so I sent them a photo.
James: Been up all night roasting this pig…
Adam: I’ve been sleeping and being all cozy.
James: About to make bacon. I win.
Adam: Eating a fresh baked cookie. Someone else made it. I win.
James: You’re alone. I’m with friends. I win.
Adam: Man’s BEST friend. I win.
11:00 am: Gardeners and elders from the community were starting to arrive. Many of them brought dishes for the potluck and waited in line for the pig to be carved up. This is my favorite memory and embodies what community means to me: parents who come out with their children; youth who selflessly serve elders; elders who feel appreciated by a younger generation; and a group of people who care about this tradition so much that they stay up all night to roast a pig. The feeling is so rewarding that I wish I could share it with all of my friends—except for Adam, who can stay in Arkansas with his dog and cookies.
Author’s note: This post was originally titled, 18 Hours with a Pig (no, not Eliot Spitzer). But less than 24 hours before I published it, Anthony Weiner made headlines for doing dumb things again. So I thought, “what the hell” and changed the name to 18 Hours with a Pig (no, not Anthony Weiner). Couldn’t help it.