We were in a natural history museum and I asked my wife to back up and pose between the enormous tusks of an elephant whose stunning head and elevated trunk protruded from the wall.
“How long’s this magnificent beast been dead?” I asked the docent.
“At least fifty years,” he said, smiling as he passed.
“Hurry up,” ordered my wife.
“Why? You love having your photo taken.”
“I don’t feel comfortable.”
“Relax,” I said, aiming my cell phone and pushing the button more than ten times, each emitting a flash.
The trumpet of an enraged elephant impressed me and I scanned the wall for speakers, saw none, and turned to look elsewhere until my wife screamed and I spun to see this elephant, thoroughly alive and in the room through a crushed wall, waving her in his powerful trunk. After momentary hesitance, I jumped and grabbed one of the tusks but the giant flicked me off like a fly.
Terrified but thinking with adrenaline-induced clarity, I scrambled up and dashed to the rear of the beast, ducked between its hind legs, and prepared to grab giant testicles. Where the hell were they? Had presumptuous humans castrated him? Was this a female? It mattered not. I hurled myself like a linebacker into the left rear leg but, after momentary optimism, realized I’d just as likely tear down the column of a building.
Scurrying to the side of the elephant, as my wife punctuated her screams with shouts for help, I unleashed a left hook and a right hook and a left and a right and a snap kick and more hooks and added elbow strikes but only injured myself. Several docents watched as I ran in front of the elephant and shouted, “Put her down.”
Turning to the people, I said, “Don’t you have a gun?”
An even more terrible trumpet shook the room and I pivoted to behold my wife with a whole hand shoved into each socket of a burning elephant eye. The giant dropped her and kept shrieking as it ran by stuffed lions and tigers and other notables of the African plains and blasted through the entrance.
My wife suffered a fractured arm and leg and several broken ribs but was otherwise astonishingly healthy and her hospital stay lasted only a week. During that time, as I sat by her bed, I used my incendiary cell phone to scan the internet and learn more about elephants. Yes, they’re big, we all know that. But how big? They’re up to twenty-one feet in length, fourteen-feet high at the shoulder, and weigh thirteen thousand pounds yet run as fast as sixteen miles an hour. It takes a lot of fuel to keep an athlete like that in form. Four hundred pounds of vegetarian fare are daily washed down by eleven gallons of water.
Some experts say elephants mourn the deaths of relatives, and this capacity for compassion may be explained by a heart weighing forty-five pounds and a brain twelve. They’re also endowed for lovemaking, the male packing a three-foot penis and the female boasting a clitoris some sixteen-inches long. I forgave myself for failing to find any testicles since they’re buried under more than a foot of flesh and muscle and reside, five pounds each, next to the kidneys.
The big fellow whom we fought and survived had to be shot, or at least he was shot, within a mile of the museum, and it’s rumored his tusks, scaling a hundred pounds each, were stolen and shipped to Asia where in some places ivory brings a thousand dollars a pound. That’s why a few million elephants used to flourish and but a tenth as many survive today.