A New Occasion

Shane Jones


In the dream, I was attending a pizza buffet with my brother when I was invited to a Caribbean pig roast. Hey, I said, you’re not going to believe this but—and he held up a hand. You, he said, were just invited to a Caribbean pig roast. On the drive over, I asked him what made it Caribbean and he said the word pineapple in a calm and confident tone. It turned out my brother had been to multiple Caribbean pig roasts in his lifetime. Am I dressed appropriately? I asked. You can wear anything to a Caribbean pig roast, he said. That’s what makes it so great. We pulled into a long driveway lined with tropical flags. Some of the flags had my face on them and other flags had the face of the pig on them. In the backyard of a house that resembled my childhood house but wasn’t my childhood house I was greeted by my entire extended family, all my co-workers from every job I ever worked, my three ex-wives, and my two daughters. Everyone is here, said my brother, who has ever loved you. My father pointed to the pig and said “except for that guy.” I didn’t laugh because I didn’t feel loved. When I asked my brother what the occasion was, he said no occasion, just a new occasion where everyone in America will once, in their lifetime, experience a surprise Caribbean pig roast with everyone they have ever loved in attendance. Oh, I said. My grandmother yanked the jawbone from the pig and fed her pineapple chunks to my mom’s dog. My mom sat alone in the corner reading a People magazine. Huh, I said, to myself. My brother was praised and applauded for organizing such an event and at one point was hoisted up by everyone in my family, minus me, and thrown several times into the air. Jesus Christ, said my boss, eating some pig dipped in ketchup. At night my ex-wives looked beautiful under the light from the tiki torches. They took turns wearing the pig’s snout and danced to my favorite songs from my childhood. The pig vanished under the moon. My brother told me this would be the highlight of my life, and looking out at everyone who had ever loved me full of pig meat, I felt my body rising and saw my daughters reaching for my feet. But they couldn’t feel me.


Shane Jones is the author of three novels, most recently, Crystal Eaters. His work has appeared online in The Paris Review, The Believer, BOMB, Diagram, and VICE, among others. His first novel, Light Boxes, was optioned for film by Spike Jonze, translated into eight languages, and named an NPR Best Book of the Year. He lives in Albany, New York.