It started with a five dollar ankle bracelet and ended in tears.
I bought a silver anklet for five bucks at Mexicali Blues, and I was totally psyched about it. My friend Derek didn’t understand.
“You really like that thing, huh?” he said.
I told him it made me feel like a fancy elephant, and he had no idea what I was talking about. “You know, like the elephants that wear bracelets and headdresses?” For some reason, ankle bracelets always make me think of the bracelets dressed-up elephants wear, and I’ve never seen an elephant that doesn’t look fabulous.
“You mean like a Thai elephant?’ he asked. Clearly, we needed to look this up.
So, we looked up pictures of well-dressed elephants, and I remembered this book my mom had about two elephants who were reunited in an elephant sanctuary. I couldn’t remember the name of the book , though, and Googling “elephant friends” was surprisingly unhelpful.
After Derek left, I found the videos (1,2) of the PBS special on Shirley and Jenny. You should watch these videos right now, because they are short and because this is the best story in the world, but here’s the basic idea: Shirley was the only elephant at her zoo. Realizing that Shirley was getting old, and that they could not provide the best environment for her, the zoo decided to take Shirley to the Elephant Sanctuary, which I like to think of as an old folks home for lady pachyderms. The video shows Solomon, Shirley’s longtime keeper, giving her a bath for the last time. He tears up as he says, “I don’t know who was the first to put a chain on her, but I’m glad I’ll be the last to take it off.”
This is where I started bawling. I did not stop for the rest of the video, which shows Shirley seeing other elephants for the first time in over twenty years. She was separated from the other elephants by steel bars, because the people at the Sanctuary weren’t sure how she would react. The next morning, the caretakers discovered that Shirley and Jenny, a younger elephant, had bent these steel bars to get close to each other. It turns out that they were in the same circus when Jenny was just a kid, and ELEPHANTS NEVER FORGET. In the wild, female elephants live in close family groups, and at the Sanctuary, Shirley and Jenny had a mother-daughter bond, and were dear friends until Jenny died in 2006. The end of the video shows them happy and reunited, their trunks entwined.
Of course, this is when my boyfriend comes home to me sobbing in front of his computer. I could probably win a “grossest cryer” award. I immediately turn red and blotchy, and I’m not quiet, either. So Mike comes home to my mucusy face and asks, “what are you watching?”
“Elephants!” I sob.
“No, Elephants!” and I try to explain to him the beautiful story of love that I have just seen, except I can’t stop crying long enough to say much more than, “it’s so amazing!” and “they love each other!” and “they bent the bars!” The cheesy music at the end of the video is not helping my case at all.
I realize this has almost nothing to do with clothes, but I hope that Mike and everyone else will watch the videos and visit the Elephant Sanctuary’s website, if only so that I’m not the only one crying over elephants. And here’s another stylish elephant, just to keep things on topic: