AGE: Three weeks

BORN: Mid-August 1990DIED: Early September 1990

For those of you who blinked and missed it, it was a commercial for Arby's 99-cent roast beef sandwich. It depicted a little pink piggy bank hiding in a closet when a Jack Nicholson shadow came looking for him. His little eyes rolled around in pig terror as he ran from one hiding place to another. Finally he was found, and we are left to assume he became an entree.

Actually, that death would have been humane compared with the flak from a few animal rights activists, some parents who were offended by the commercial's violent nature and a smattering of feminists who charged male abuse of females. (The pig is pink.)

Right away when I saw the commercial, I said to myself, "This is not a real pig. It has a slot in its back and it holds money. Real pigs don't do that."

I didn't see violence. I saw a parallel between the piggy bank and my own kids. If their piggy banks had had any sense (and legs), they'd have hidden from me, too. There wasn't a week went by that I didn't relentlessly pursue them with a blunt object. When I found them, I'd shake the animals to death to get loose change for something. Sometimes I would insert a knife in the slot and let the money slide out into my lap.

Mark Stine, who is vice president of communications at Arby's in Atlanta, said, "It was a very small percentage of complaints, but Arby's is not into condoning violence or offending customers." The commercial was removed from the air. The irony is that it appeared just before a CBS "48 Hours" of crime in the streets. Somehow, a broken piggy bank didn't seem that violent.

When I was active in promoting equality for women under the laws of this land, I was always annoyed a flap was made over Mickey Mouse stuff like whether or not men opened our car doors or called us Miss, Mrs. or Ms. I was for lightening up. Who cares? Forget that and get on to the big stuff, such as whether we are going to make the same money for the same job.

There's a lot of violence out there that needs to be called to our attention. It is usually in the realm of reality. There is a place for watchdogs in this society, but if we are going to waste time trying to end the slaughter of innocent ceramic piggy banks, where will it all end? Shall we take on the Energizer rabbit? How old is he? How much does that drum weigh? Are his wages being protected until he is of age? And he's pink, you know. Is that how we perceive women? As baby machines?

1990 Erma Bombeck / Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate