Shell Shocked: Free at last, proclaim elephants of the world
Six elephants gathered in the jungles of Africa. The leader of the pack, Dumbo, answered his cell phone. A call was coming in from the U.S.
“Speak louder,” Dumbo said. “Those dumb giraffes are chewing on the signal tower. Ah, I can hear you now. Once I hear you clearly I will never forget what you said.”
The other elephants chuckled. They knew that Dumbo loved to perpetuate the myth that elephants never forget. But all too often Dumbo forgot to remember that elephants never forget.
The call was coming in from Trumbo, an elephant that was wintering at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus headquarters in Sarasota, Florida.
Trumbo said: “I have some incredible news. I’ve just been handed my walking papers from the circus. Ringling Brothers just announced that it will no longer include elephants in its circus acts. It appears they bowed to public opinion.”
Dumbo: “No more elephants in its circus? Does that mean that elephants will no longer have to march trunk to tail to the accompaniment of ‘Ain’t She Sweet?’ behind a midget wearing a fireman’s uniform?”
Trumbo: “Yes, that’s exactly what it means. No more shuffling and standing up on each other’s rear ends. The public has felt all along that elephants were being unjustly humiliated. We are free at last. Our honor and dignity will now be restored.”
Dumbo: “Does that mean we won’t have to put on those ugly little dresses and party hats anymore to make circus audiences guffaw with delight? The Supreme Court should have outlawed elephants having to wear clothes years ago.”
Trumbo: “That’s correct. And it also means that other circuses will follow Ringling Brothers in shutting down their elephant acts.”
Dumbo: “Will you be holding a press conference in Sarasota to speak for the world’s elephants? I could fly up from Africa if you need me. I still get royalties from my Walt Disney movies and can afford to fly business class.”
Trumbo: “I don’t think it’s necessary. The CEO of Ringling Brothers had his own press conference and he wore a fake elephant trunk to demonstrate his affinity with the elephant brotherhood. Brian Williams covered it and he told everyone afterwards that he had once been an elephant himself.”
Dumbo: “Well, we won’t have him around to distort things for the next six months. Did Wolf Blitzer give this story any coverage?”
Trumbo: “He had a panel of experts on his news show to analyze this breaking story. Madonna said that out of respect for the Ringling Brothers decision, she would no longer have elephants in her act as back-up singers. And Johnny Weissmuller’s grandson who is in the process of filming a new ‘Tarzan’ movie said he would write elephants out of the script. So the scene with the little 10-year-old redheaded girl riding an elephant is now on the cutting-room floor.”
Dumbo: “We need to be careful. We don’t want to lose our total visibility. Millions of youngsters throughout the world need to have newfound respect for elephants. We don’t want that to disappear.”
Trumbo: “That’s why I think we should force the closing of ‘The Elephant Man’ on Broadway. It depicts a malformed human being who is compared to an elephant. No elephant was ever that ugly. It’s a sacrilege. I’ll start civil rights proceedings immediately.”
Dumbo: “We still have the other problem.”
Trumbo: “What’s that?”
Dumbo: “The Republican convention in 2016. We need to sign a new agreement with the Republican Party to carve out a more defined role. We must expand the licensing agreement we have with them as their long time symbol.”
Trumbo: “You’re right. We keep losing face because the Republican controlled Congress can’t pass any laws. I need to set up a meeting with John Boehner.”
Dumbo: “But Boehner can’t seem to control his own Republican caucus. How is he going to be able to negotiate with us? The Tea Party will bury him.”
Trumbo: “Then we need to take our case directly to Obama.”
Dumbo: “Now, how could Obama, as the titular head of the other party, make a deal with us to continue to be the Republican symbol?”
Trumbo: “You’re not getting it. We can switch parties. Republicans can now become the symbol of the Democratic Party. Don’t you think that’s more dignified than a donkey?”
Dumbo: “Great thinking. Obama can pass an executive order and sign a new agreement with elephants to be the new symbol of the Democratic Party. Can you image the look on Boehner’s face when that happens?”
Trumbo: “I certainly can. He’ll have no choice but to work out a backroom deal with the lizard population.”
Dumbo: “That’s what I would call poetic justice.”
Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.