I was recently introduced to a local celebrity, a friend of a friend, who said we’d have a lot in common. This sort of thing happens to all of us — sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t — but when the friend in question turns out to be a pig, one feels more than the usual amount of stranger aversion. What could we possibly have to talk about? Pretty much oink.
Of course, it never pays to make assumptions. I knew in one glance that Mercy Watson, the curly-tailed heroine of local author Kate DiCamillo’s charming children’s book series, would be a lifelong friend. It didn’t take us long to discover that we have but one thing in common: an uncommon love of hot, buttered toast. In these carbophobic times, one longs to meet a fellow traveler. Ah but for one frustrating moment it seemed we were doomed to sit, nose to snout, all our best adventures, our most glutenous hopes and dreams, ready to pour forth — yet silenced for lack of a common language.
Not surprisingly, Mercy, the porcine wonder, knows a pig-whisperer. Victoria Stewart was the playwright for Mercy Watson to the Rescue, which is playing at Children’s Theatre Company now through October 23. The play is a stirring roman á clef: Mercy heroically saves many lives, including those of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Watson, and makes unlikely allies of the fireman, animal control, and a rather curmudgeonly neighbor — all in the name of toast.
Here, in our brief discussion via Victoria Stewart, Mercy reveals a more contemplative side, gamely talking about literary heroes, the horrors of vegemite and lost toasters, and the upside of cold, dry toast.
HEAVY TABLE: How did you discover your love of toast — of all the tasty snacks?
MERCY WATSON: I used to eat pretty much anything I could find with my very sensitive snout, nuts, berries, mushrooms, grubs. But the Watsons introduced me to toast — Mr. Watson likes a lumberjack special — and it was love at first sight. The Watsons fell in love with me and I fell in love with toast.