Addressing the Elephant in the Room

Raph al Guul

He had been wondering about the elephant in the room for a couple of days now. One morning, it was suddenly standing there looking at him curiously. Most of the time, the elephant didn’t do anything but stand there, in the middle of the living room. Every now and then, it would wag its trunk a little bit and cause minor damage to furniture and interior design. No one knew where the elephant had come from, why it was here, or how long it will stay; but no one would have wanted it to be around. He had called the exterminator, but his call was dismissed as a prank. Not entirely surprising.

He looked up from his bowl of cereal on the kitchen table. The elephant was observing him in an interested manner. He shoved a full spoon in his general face-area, picked up his bowl, and walked over into the living room. There, he engaged in a staring contest with the elephant – a rather futile endeavor. The large animal stood there and calmly stared at him as he lost the contest by repeatedly blinking nervously. The elephant seemed to be at peace, as if a living room was its natural habitat.

He gulped down the last remains of cereal that he had been chewing while staring at the animal. “Tell me one thing: what are you doing here?” He was used to talking to animals. He once had a dog and it would always appreciate it when he talked to it, even though the dog never got what he had been saying. The elephant slightly tilted its massive head and went: “I am waiting for you to kiss me.” That the animal had just responded didn’t strike him as being as odd as it actually was. What really disturbed him was the animal’s request, rather than its unexpected ability to make it.

“What? Why would I kiss you?” Somehow, he decided that there must be a sensible explanation for the elephant in the room to tell him to kiss it. “Well, I am a princess who was turned into an elephant by an evil spell, a curse. Only a man’s kiss can restore my original form and give me back my wealth.” He had heard that sort of thing before, it sounded familiar – and a little cheesy. “So I have to kiss you and then you turn into a human lady?” He was a little skeptical. He imagined kissing an elephant to be rather disgusting. The elephant started laughing, which was weird, because he had never seen an elephant do that: “Nah, I’m just messing with ya. I’m actually a fairy. I can grant you three wishes.”

If the elephant was telling the truth, this would have been a rather strange turn of events. Then again, it probably would just about fall in line with a talking elephant randomly appearing in one’s living room. Still, he didn’t quite believe it: “Okay, I’m not exactly inclined to trust your outrageously ridiculous utterances.” He wondered why he was expressing this concern in such a formal and convoluted fashion. He tried to dial it down a notch: “How do I know you’re telling the truth?” The elephant was rather quick to respond: “Why don’t you just give it a try? Wish for something.”

For a second he thought about what he should wish for. Then he realized that if he was being played, it would be rather embarrassing to have put so much thought into making a sophisticated wish. On the other hand, if this elephant really was a fairy, then he’d still have two wishes left afterwards, so he might as well waste this first one. So, instead of thinking about what to wish – although admittedly thinking about thinking about what to wish – he just blurted out: “I want Indiana Jones to show up in this living room.”

He stared at the elephant with a smug smile: nothing was happening, and the animal wasn’t saying anything, either. He guessed that he was right not to believe this hoax. One of the windows shattered as the man with the hat swung into the room on his whip. It wasn’t Harrison Ford; it was the man himself. He pulled back his whip, looked up, tipped his fedora towards the surprised man standing next to an elephant, and ran out of the room. Drily, the elephant said: “You saw that, right?” He did, indeed. Looks like there really was a fairy standing in the living room.

“Okay. You can grant wishes. Apparently. Why are you an elephant, though? Is that what fairies typically look like? And why did you just stand around for days before you revealed yourself?” The elephant laughed again; this time, it felt significantly less creepy. “I just wanted to see how long it takes you to get it.” “So you’re saying you took the form of an elephant and appeared in my living room, just to mess with me.” “Exactly.” “You’re a bit of an ass, aren’t you?” “An elephant, actually. But hey, if it makes you feel any better, you still have two wishes left to make.”

This time, he actually thought about it long and hard. He knew what his last wish will be, but the second one wasn’t as easy. He had to come up with something grand, something impressive that everyone would benefit from. He wasn’t just going to wish for money; that would have been too mundane, plus it would probably have had a negative impact on inflation. He knew that there were stories about Djinns who tried to trick people by granting them wishes that would have negative consequences; one had to be cautious. The elephant-fairy was watching him patiently while he worked out what his second wish would be.

“Okay,” he finally said, “I want this world to be really, really funny at all times.” The elephant looked at him, slowly nodding. He didn’t feel like anything had changed significantly. He stared at the elephant-fairy. “What’s your third wish, then?” But he didn’t feel like his second had been granted, yet. He raised an eyebrow while continuously staring at the elephant in the room. There was something amusing about the situation. A play on words, he realized. “The elephant in the room” – he got it now. This was an actual elephant and the wish that was not granted was a metaphorical one. He had to laugh out loud.

The elephant kept standing there, patient, quiet. There was something funny about it – all of it. The way the elephant stared, the way it didn’t say anything even though it could have, which was funny in and of itself, the way it was a fairy looking like an elephant, just to mess with him. “Isn’t it weird,” he asked, interrupting himself with repressed laughter, “isn’t it weird that I never realized, hehe, never realized that – how funny it is that an elephant,” gasping for air he had to take another quick break, “an elephant is standing in this living room?” The elephant did not respond. He held his belly, laughing. “It’s the third floor!” Another burst of uncontrollable laughter. “How could you have gotten up here? Did you take the stairs?”

The elephant had to grin a little bit. It responded: “Nah, I’m pretty magic. I just sort of showed up. It’s difficult to explain.” Unsurprisingly, he was amused by that, as well. “What’s your third wish,” the elephant inquired once again. “I want-” he had to laugh again. “I want a thousand-” he looked at the elephant-fairy. “A thousand more-” Initially it had been weird and pretty annoying. Now it was funny. “Elephants in- elephants in the living room,” he exclaimed in hilarity, pointing at the grey animal in front of him. Before he realized that he had just uttered his final wish, it got extremely crowded in the living room. The elephants weren’t their usual size, probably because they wouldn’t have fit in here. It didn’t bother him that he hadn’t wished for what he originally had planned. It amused him, rather; he got so distracted by how funny a literal elephant in the living room was, he accidentally wished for more of them. Now that’s hilarious. And so were all the mini-elephants around him. And the fact that the elephant-fairy seemed to have vanished.

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