Why Can’t You Teach a Pig to Sing?

I am known by my colleagues as a health nut and fitness enthusiast. Perhaps, these monikers were attributed to me last year, when I volunteered to man the grill, at our annual cookout. 

I had removed my Polo shirt, for fear of having the smell of charcoal seared into it, and was left with only a tank top, which I had worn underneath. I must confess, I was a bit taken aback and embarrassed at the lavish praise heaped on me because of the muscularity of my arms. 

Of course, I preferred to wear tank tops when working out, not for the sake of vanity as I had seen others in the gym do, admiring themselves in the mirror, but because I hated to be restricted in my movements, and it allowed me to see the pump as the blood flowed into the muscles I was working. 

In the gym, most of us are attired in similar workout garb, and no one, at least to my knowledge gawks at the size of another’s muscles, but I wasn’t in the gym; I was among colleagues, who made no attempt to hide their amazement at the definition of my arms. 

So, it wasn’t unusual to hear the woman, who occupied the desk next to me, complain as she was accustomed to that her boyfriend had stopped going to the gym. Normally, I would pretend that I was so engrossed in my work, and didn’t hear her, but on this particular day, her sighs increased in intensity, forcing me to acknowledge her presence. 

“Joan, what is the matter?” 

“My boyfriend,” she sighed. “He stopped going to the gym.” 

A little background here would suffice, to allow the reader, to understand why I often pretended not to hear Joan’s complaints about her boyfriend. Joan’s beau suffered with bouts of depression, and his way of coping was to binge eat, which caused his weight to balloon well in excess of 500 pounds. 

Joan was so proud a few month ago, when she told me that her boyfriend had lost over 100 pounds. I was a bit skeptical, and queried, how did he accomplish such a feat. She explained that he was on a program that required him to lose ten pounds a week, and go to the gym twice a day. 

I had cautioned her that the program and the required amount of weekly weight loss seemed very aggressive, and doubted if her partner could keep up the pace. She was visibly annoyed that day, and subsequently stopped speaking to me about her boyfriend’s, progress or lack thereof in the gym. 

It had been quiet for a couple of months, before the aforementioned conversation, and so having given you the reader some history of the situation, I will resume . . . 

I contemplated how to proceed. I did not want a repeat of the last time, where she stopped speaking to me, but then again, I enjoyed the quietness of the office, absent from her nauseating complaints. 

No, I could not do that, especially since her countenance showed visible signs of despair, and frustration. 

“Joan, why did he stop?” 

“He got tired,” she said, reluctantly. “He hated the food.” 

Doing my best, to suppress a smirk, “Anything else?” 

“Yes,” she blurted out. “He got tired of going to the gym, twice a day.” 

I had played out in my mind Joan’s reaction to what I needed to tell her, and concluded the worst-case scenario is that she would not ask my advice on this subject again. 

“Joan, I said, taking a deep breath. “Do you know why, you can’t teach a pig to sing . . .? 



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