Thursday, February 28, 2013
Elephants and other things I don't want to forget
I use Microsoft's Bing Desktop which is a search box that sits almost hidden on my desktop and has the added benefit of changing the background on my desktop everyday. Today is the image above of the Elephants with the description "A herd of elephants in the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya".
For a few days, I've been getting little hints that it is time to go visit the zoo. Of course, as you become aware of something, you are more likely to notice things that trigger that idea. So I can easily say that it isn't synchronicity but just coincidence though I personally prefer the more magical belief.
I have always had a strong attraction to elephants. My father bought a beautiful table while working overseas when I was very young. The two feet were actually carved into elephants with ivory tusks and toenails and other inlay. It quickly became "my table" and now has the middle of one side of it worn from the black lacquer down to the wood from propping my feet up on it all my life while watching television (no matter how many times my mother hollered at me to "Get your feet off the coffee table!)". It was just too convenient! And now that worn spot triggers fond memories of my mom (even when being yelled at).
The circus use to come to New Orleans and set up near Schweggman's supermarket. After the first time going, I got to go to the tent and see the elephants up close. They would probe with their snouts and I remember thinking I could sneak back in and free them all from the chains that bound thier feet even if I knew they wouldn't get very far.
That memory always reminds me of the time I got to ride an elephant. I don't know where it was or how old I was. I do remember being scared that I would hurt this big animal by stepping on it and grabbing its ear as I climbed up. There was no seat or reins, just a bareback ride as its keeper lead it along. I was on top of the world!
Later in life, I got the nickname "Elephant Ears" because my ears stuck out. At the time, I didn't know that had partially been caused at birth when the doctor had to use the wrong forceps and crushed my skull. It took a long time to discover this because my mom held the belief you didn't speak of bad events and draw that energy down on you but I was persistent and eventually got the story from her.
So when folks teased me and called me "Elephant Ears", it was bittersweet. I knew they meant it in a cruel way and many nights I fell asleep with my ears pressed tightly against my pillows in hopes that they would grow closer to my head. At the same time, I thought of my elephants that I loved so much and bit by bit, became less annoyed and more special by their taunts. Once I heard "An elephant never forgets!", it was just one more feather in my cap.
As I grew up, my mother and I talked about how they had decided not to have surgery in hopes that my head would grow out properly. I told her that as science improved, it was probably better to wait and that I could get them fixed if I wanted to now but I was okay with who I was. If I had known at the time that I was the second son and my brother Freddie had died of meningitis, I would have understood my mom's fear of losing me and the thought of any surgery on my head.
So here I sit, looking at a beautiful picture of elephants in Africa, remembering many interesting things about them, hoping to visit them someday in their own natural habitat, and thinking I really am overdue for a visit to the zoo.