Elephants Never Forget
Copyright 2006 All Rights Reserved
A few years ago, one of the highlights of going to the Circus each year for me, was getting there in time to see the “processional” of the animals from the Barnum and Bailey circus trains to the arena where the circus performed it’s annual show.
One year, we were attending the very last performance, and of course, afterwards, I dragged my husband Dale down to the area where the “Elephant Walk” back to the trains was to begin.
It would be a somewhat long walk, about 2 miles back to the trains. The elephants would hook their tails to the trunk of the one in front of them, and “attached”, they would start the march. The lions, tigers and bears oh my, got to ride in wheeled carts. The Elephants had to walk. I always felt sorry for the poor elephants.
The huge animals were already tired from the last performance and I was sort of wishing that a big Elephant blimp Taxi could sort of just swoop down, pick up the giant creatures, and deliver them to some nice hay and peanut butter. (Remember all of the elephant and peanut butter jokes from childhood?)
The elephants were waiting in an area that was roped off as the crowd gathered to watch the elephant walk begin.
I was of course, right up next to the rope. No need to be in the back row I figured. I wanted to be right up close and personal, as they say. Bring on the sights, the sounds and the smells of the circus!
I was there, minding my own business, (sort of) , and it was then that it happened. My mind had been suddenly invaded by a thought, so foreign…but so very strong. It was as if one of the elephants was talking to me…trying to get an urgent message to me.
I quickly put the thought out of my mind, by raising my imaginary eraser and waving it in front of my face, as I continued to watch the trainers getting ready for the march back to the trains.
Boom. It was back…the thought…the communication, the whatever it was…it was back. Good Lord, what was this…what was happening to me?
All right, I was going to listen this time and go with it. Oh man, this was another one of those times when I just knew my husband was getting ready to slowly walk away, look up in the air and begin whistling so no one would know he was with me, poor dear that he is.
Boom…there it was again. Ok. This time, I was definitely going to go with it.
I looked around and then lifted the rope and went UNDER it, and walked right up to the HUGE Elephant that had been trying to “contact” me, and the elephant trainer who was in charge of this section of elephants.
The trainer did not speak much English, as I soon learned. He quickly raised his hook (a three foot stick with a metal hook on the end, used to prod the Elephants into moving), pointed it directly at me and screamed, (while the crowd listened),”NO! NO! Go way! Go way! No Elephant! No Elephant! Go way! You go way! “
Yes, I realized he was speaking to me and did I care?? No, I did not care. I had received a message from one of these elephants and it was so strong now, that God help anyone who would even contemplate standing in my way. I was now on a mission, and I was going to accomplish it or die trying, and that trainer could just hide in the bushes and watch!
One of the elephants seemed to be HURT…or injured, and in pain, and it had communicated this to me, on my oath it had!
“Hold on baby (ok..so this baby weighed 2 tons)…I’m coming!” I thought. I now was preparing to go rescue an Elephant in front of God and everybody. I thought, “And I don’t even have a leash with me”…Now, what good a leash would have done me, I have no earthy idea, but I still found myself wishing I had one with me.
Next, I looked around and there were uniformed police there. Police who would have gladly taken me away in a heartbeat, for “trespassing on Circus Property” I presumed, but even that did not matter at a time like this. I also saw my husband, without missing a beat, do a U-turn and begin to go in the opposite direction and I know he was whistling “Baby Elephant Walk”.
One of the gentle giants, was HURT…HURT I tell you. How did I know? I heard it in my head. (Ok…this is your chance to escape…my husband tells people I am not dangerous as long as they get me back to the “home” by 10. RUN now, while you have the chance!)
As the trainer screamed and shook his mean looking hooked stick at me, I approached him and his Elephant. The crowd now became silent, I presume to hear what the crazy blond woman was going to say in her defense.
I began slowly, “Sir, one of your elephants is hurt…or injured. Yes, it is this one, I believe.”…I pointed upwards to the extremely large gray pachydermish creature to my left.
A huge female elephant had made eye contact with me. It was as if she was saying,”Pleaseeee…please..you HAVE to help me..it is ME…I need HELP…Please..Hurry! We are about to start the walk!”
I looked up, several feet up, at her eye, and I nodded. I thought, “Yes! I heard you! Yes, I am here! No! Don’t worry! I am going to fix it! Now don’t…you know…don’t step on me or trample me or anything…yes…you are BIG…Big baby…nice big baby!! Robin is your FRIEND. Right? Nice girl…Sit?? Stay??
Ok..how about just don’t kick or fall down on me? Now you don’t have to go potty or anything do you?” I looked behind her, having no idea what I thought I was going to see.
I briefly remembered a vacation my husband and I had taken to Las Vegas, Nevada. We had gone to one of those floor shows…with the jungle dancers, and the waterfalls…and the elephants.
The jungle music was playing, and I was complaining that we hadn’t been able to get better seats…closer to the front. There was a runway that ran through the audience right up towards the front.
The beautiful pink lights had dimmed, the music was playing, and here came the Elephants! Boomba! Boomba! Boomba! Splash.
One word was muttered by the collective audience, and I am going to let you guess what that one word was.
One of the Elephants was in need of Ammonium ID, and no I am not kidding. Diarrhea went everywhere. Anyone with a good seat, was now in need of emergency dry cleaning services.
After the elephants, came the barefoot dancers…right after them. Do you remember when we were kids, and there was a toy called a “Slip and Slide?” Well…try to imagine it. Visualize. Yes. That was about the size of it. Dancers begin to go down like flies.
I clung to my seat in the back, held my nose, and thanked God for the “bad seats”.
Back at the circus, after making sure that my new friend, the circus elephant, didn’t have to go potty, I told her,”Yes, I was here now and would take care of it.”
Now, all I had to do was discover what “it” was.
The trainer was now convinced that I was an elephant stalker, kidnapper, or worse, and was calling for a policeman to come over to take away the “prisoner”, when I did something so out of character for me.
You see, I am a rule follower. I have never even smoked marijuana. I have never been arrested. I did not get in trouble at school, for fear of getting in worse trouble at home.
But, I was about to break all of the rules, now.
I walked right over to the giant, and I do mean giant animal. I noticed she had hair..all over her body. Yes, she smelled like an elephant. Yes, the “feeling” was getting stronger. Her foot. It was her foot. YES! her foot! It WAS her foot! “I am sure it is her foot”, I thought to myself, and anyone else who would listen!
The man and the stick came at me and I screamed at him with all of my might, as I realized he might just use this hook on me, “Her foot! Look at her foot!”….just as the policeman came up to me and was getting out the handcuffs.
Good Lord, I was going to be going to jail for Elephant tampering. I could see it now. “Tulsa Woman arrested in Elephant Incident”.
The policeman asked me what I was doing, and so I gently and precisely explained that the elephant had told me that her foot was hurt, and why in the world could not one understand this, as simple as it was?
He was reaching for the handcuffs I tell you, when I began to think fast on my feet.
I said, “Look…why not just look at her feet? If there is nothing wrong, I will climb in your squad car and you can take me to the loony bin. I will not resist arrest”…I looked around in the crowd. I asked the policeman if he had seen a tall man whistling “Baby Elephant Walk”. I figured that he would be needed to pay my bail.
The trainer, who was now rolling his eyes, (something I have become accustomed to many times in my life by now) that someone like me, had been allowed out on the loose was talking to the elephant now. He gave her a command, in East Indian, I believe. I could tell he was getting ready to make her start the march.
“Please GOD…Help me here. I KNOW what I “heard! This elephant is HURT”!
It was then that some power, stronger than I, must have convinced the policeman to tell the trainer to look at the Elephant’s feet.
The trainer, angrily jabbed at the poor beast’s feet, with the hooked stick, one at a time, instructing her to “LIFT” each foot, for him to inspect.
In India, if an elephant kills it’s trainer, a trial is held. If the trainer was found to be abusive, then the Elephant is allowed to keep it’s life.
I was imagining a jungle jury in my mind, right then.
Three feet seemed to be fine. I was preparing for a jail cell with an orange jump suit, and a roommate named Bubba, and nice little white pills, to be taken at mealtime.
Then, as the fourth foot was raised, something glistened in the setting sun, momentarily blinding us all in the setting sun.
THERE it was. In between her giant toes, embedded into her hoof was a huge 4 inch piece of a green BROKEN COKE BOTTLE, lodged in her foot, and no I am not kidding!
She was getting ready to walk…to put two thousand pounds of pressure on it and to send that piece of glass even further into her painful hoof!
The crowd was still silently excited at the prospect of getting to watch a crazy lady led off in handcuffs. A siren had begun in the background, signalling the beginning of the elephant walk.
I screamed, “There! Look! There it is!” (Thank you GOD…I had now been vindicated and the jury would now feel sorry for me and release me to the custody of my husband, in time for breakfast maybe?)
The trainer finally saw it, too. He held her foot up and “chunked” the piece of glass away from her foot, with the hook. The glass went flying, and hit the pavement with a loud “chink”, and the crowd roared when I picked it up and showed it to them.
“See there?!! See there??! I TOLD you that elephant talked to me..I TOLD you..but oh no, no one would listed to ME, crazy lady that I am…see there…I TOLD you! I Told you that elephant talked to me! Now whose CRAZY???! Next time I tell you an Elephant talked to me, I bet you will listen, huh?!” I smiled a forgiving smile, and they couldn’t help but laugh with me and I felt a lot of love coming from the previously skeptical crowd of people.
By now, the policeman was smiling too, and the trainer was aggravated that a blond woman had been right, and he had been wrong, and that HIS elephant had chosen to talk to me, and not to him.
I gazed up at the elephant, as her eyes ROLLED back in her head…in eternal gratitude.
The policeman asked me…with his face strangely contorted now, “Ok…Who ARE you?”….looking at me like I was one of those TV psychics.
I answered back what I always do, when asked this question. “I am nobody…nobody at all…just ignore me..don’t listen to me..”, and I quickly slipped back under the rope and proceeded to try to blend in with the crowd again.
Yes, I had connected now with an Elephant. Larger than life. If I hadn’t experienced it, I would not have believed it.
Elephants feel pain too just like we do. They say that they actually cry when one of their family members dies. I remember seeing a special on TV, where a mother lost her calf.
The whole herd gathered around the body of the infant and cried tears at the death of one of it’s babies. Then they helped to carry the body, and to bury it. One of the heard, leaned against the mother elephant, to hold her up, lest she crumble to the ground in parental grief.
I believe that in that space and time, this elephant adopted me, as a family member and asked for my help, which I was more than happy to give.
I don’t go to the Circus anymore. After “meeting” one of the “performers” that day, something just told me that for me, it was not the right thing to do anymore.
Yes, I sometimes miss the sounds of the big top, but I know, that day I made a friend for life that day. And they say…that elephants never forget.
After that evening, and that experience, with one of God’s hugest of creatures, …I know I won’t soon forget, either.
One day, on the streets of gold, I will meet that elephant again. We will go have a piece of Peanut Butter pie, and talk about the day we met…the day we connected…the day we became…family. The day neither of us will ever forget.