"You gotta help me!"
"I'm busy making breakfast!"
"I can't read this!"
"Are you going blind? Are you having a stroke?" screams Mrs. Pops. "Let me call
"It's not a stroke! I just can't read this! Help me!"
"What are you trying to read?"
"It's some kind of press release! I think it's in English, but I can't make head
nor tail out of it!"
"Here. Let me. Which one is it?"
"FTP Ag Ministers Focus On Emerging Opportunities. For starters, what does FTP stand
"What's your guess?" she says.
"I think the "TP" part stands for "The People", and I have a specific idea about
the "F" part."
"FTP. Federal, Provincial, Territorial. It's an acronym. You were reading a press
release telling hard-working Canadians, about what went on at this conference all
the Agriculture Ministers in Canada attended."
"How many Ministers are there?"
"Let's see. There would be one Federal, plus ten Provincial, plus three territorial."
"But there's only nine in the accompanying photo."
"Maybe five of them were too sick to be photographed."
"A politician would have to be dead to miss an emerging photo opportunity."
"You are so right! What could have killed them? Food poisoning?"
"That would be ironic."
"Maybe a violent disagreement about QDS."
"Quebec Dairy Subsidies."
"Nothing's changed there. You are still having to cross the border to get cheap
"I'm thinking it could be PEDV!"
"Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus!"
"That does not sound good to me."
"It's mentioned here, in the press release. They intend to study it."
"Some kind of pig disease that gives you the trots? Maybe the missing five studied
the virus a little too closely!"
"Think about it. You're dying on a toilet, just like Elvis."
"Those damned pigs!"
"That's not very respectful to these Agriculture Ministers."
"I mean real pigs! You know that pigs are supposed to be as intelligent as Agriculture
"Everyone knows that."
"So do you think that these smart pigs are thrilled about the prospect of being
turned into bacon? So what do they want? Revenge! How? Suicide Porkers!"
"Yeah. Pigs infected with Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus. They know they're goners,
but they want to make a statement before they go! The Suicide Porkers must have
turned up at the Photo Op Farm and cozied up to these fourteen suits, the better
to spread the virus!"
"What's Photo Op Farm?"
"It's a farm near Ottawa where agriculture ministers can go to get their picture
taken. That way they can prove they've been on a farm at least once in their life."
"So what about the nine surviving guys in the photo?"
"They will have to be quarantined, of course. But I think it's already too late!"
"Why do you say that?"
"One of the early symptoms of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus is verbal diarrhea."
"The survivors put this press release together."
"OMG! They've got Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus!"
"I'm afraid so. Is breakfast ready?"
(I think I'll pass on the bacon.)
Editor's Note: Pops McKernan is the byline of writer Patrick Harding, author of Splendiferous, which is serialized in our Regional section.