Many people around this area know about the Polite Elephant. They certainly know what he would, and wouldn’t do. He is so polite and correct that you can count on him to help you know how to be likeable. Being likeable isn’t the goal of polite behavior, but it certainly helps us all to be more likeable if we aren’t showing chewed food to others and burping, putting ourselves first and not looking folks in the eye to greet them. (Etc….!) So – I realized something this past Sunday. There is an ABRIDGED VERSION of the Polite Elephant. I have never been totally in favor of abridged versions in literature, and while you may argue that it could hardly matter in this case, I beg to differ. And here’s why: In the original version, the Polite Elephant has a dinner scene where he asks politely for things to be passed, and says thank you, and (if you read between the lines and I always do) chews quietly with his mouth closed. The abridged version has no such dinner scene. It skips directly to picking up a toy for a mother of a small child because of course the Polite Elephant tries to be helpful everywhere he goes. Vital information here folks. Check before you pick up a copy at the thrift store. Hint: the board book has fewer lessons in it, though it *will* hold up to a teething baby for awhile.
Summer when I was growing up, was an endless series of peaceful yet busy days. I guess they still are, only my definition of peaceful has certainly changed over the years. Back then, I left the house early with my sister for swimming lessons (rain, shine or storm) and returned to change and recharge with food. Then we would go play in the woods and/or ride our bikes somewhere. After that we went swimming for the most afternoons. Our daily ice cream cone habit was paid for by spare change we found along the way, but since most of “on the way” was through a cemetery, change was mostly found in parking lots or the bike lots, or the coin return of the pay telephone. There was much more to fill those days but the Polite Elephant would never bore you with long selfish naratives of his life.
These days, there are weeds to keep back, company to get ready for and cook for, and the ubiquitous laundry in the basement (that isn’t quite the “Mount Washmore” I used to face when more children lived here, but still). Right now I have the very peaceful task of watching a sleeping tiny grandson. He is too little to go anywhere, but I sit here to make sure he doesn’t.
“What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?” (George Eliot)