Elephants and Old Balls

She had dark brown eyes and eyelashes to die for. I swear she winked at me as I came near with chunks of pineapple. The soft snout shot out and deftly took a piece out of my hand. It felt like a kiss and it was the best kiss of my life.

Fuck Disney, the Elephant Nature Park was the happiest place on earth. When I was little I saw an elephant for the first time at the Detroit Zoo. I remember thinking I has fallen asleep and was dreaming. No one animal could have a trunk, giant ears, tusks, and be that big at the same time. I stared and stared, refusing to leave the enclosure and Aunt Mary said I cried the entire two-hour drive home till she smacked me.

I read once elephants are one of the only species who can recognize themselves in a mirror. They also mourn their dead, repeat musical melodies, live more than 70 years, remember each other after decades apart and have matriarchal society. Elephants are dope.

At the Elephant Nature Park they are treated like Kardashians. Following the preserve and it’s roly poly pachyderms forever on Instagram, I fell in love with each new baby born. When I first decided to leave I knew I was making a straight line to this place as my first destination. Seeing all of them IRL made my heart sing.

In the afternoon we went to the river with them and I got to witness what pure joy looks like. It is a baby elephant spraying herself and her friends, they were actually freakin’ frolicking. Eee!

I realized how much I had kept to myself on the long train ride and night in Chiang Mai when I laughed out loud at Dok Mai tripping over her own giant padded feet. No wonder my voice sounded rough, it had been 48 hours since I’d last said anything.

I tried to imagine going two days at home not speaking. Everyone yelling every damn thought that floated across their brontosaurus brain. Work was 90% talking, asking patients questions and reporting out. Plus the mindless chatter coworkers feel the need to pass back and forth. I learned early you had to catch the ball and instantly bounce it back, whether you had something worthwhile to say or not, or be labeled “that stuck-up bitch”. One time still in that mode I asked Aunt Mary about the weather.

“We’re talking about the weather now? Sweet Jesus, come take me home to the Kingdom of Heaven immediately. I’m ready. Everyone here is boring me to tears.”

I finished wiping her ass a little less gently and kept quiet after that.

I only had two days here. I wanted to stay for the rest of my life. I had emailed the director with my resume, highlighting I was a very accomplished Ass Wiper, and noting was a whole lot of giant asses to be wiped. I guess they need more like “veterinarians” and “large mammal specialists” than registered nurses though.

I decided to break my vow of silence at the communal dinner for visitors staying two days.

Eyed my options.

Elderly Australian couple, softly bickering over a fish head. Nope.

Rowdy pack of young Brits, hiding their money under boho clothes and dreadlocks. Nah guys, I can smell the rich on you under the BO.

Kinda sad looking older guy alone. Hi new friend.

“Can I sit here?” I asked, before setting down my tray of three different kinds of Curry Heaven piled around a rice mound.

He looked up and nodded, then went back to tucking away his portion. I sat and ate silently.

Three hours later we were BFFs.

“So I told Susan, ‘Listen woman, I love ya but I’ll not rot in this backwater village walkin’ yer poodles and fixing casseroles while ya work 14 hours a day in town.’ And she left me. Tried to leave the damn dogs too. Heh, I shoved em into the boot before she drove away. Think she made it to Bristol before she realized they were back there!”

His name was Richard, he was a 64-year-old retired plumber, and he was so funny I didn’t mind that he kept spilling his Singha down my leg each time we laughed. He had been married four times and I could see how he had charmed the ladies back in the day. Under the soft belly and wrinkles you could see outlines of a hot guy with bright blue eyes and broad shoulders.

“Here I am telling ya all my failures and faults and I’ve na asked ya nothin’ about yerself. Hows it that you got here and whereya goin’ next?”

“I’ve wanted to come here since I was little. I read about it one of those like, National Geographic for Kids magazines and promised myself I’d see the elephants in person some day. I don’t know what’s next…I have one of those around-the-world tickets, you know…where do you think I should go?”

It is shockingly easy to get people to talk about themselves instead of you.

“Well now that’s a big question, ennit! Let me tell ya, I spent a week in Morocco in the 70’s with the most beautiful woman in the world, Shirley Blackwell, and I’ll ne’er forget the taste of the Alboran Sea on her skin…”

It was late by the time we stumbled back to the huts. I stopped, listening to the sounds of the elephants in the thick jungle air. The stamping and snuffling was loud and peaceful.

“Well ga night to you, Missy. It’s been a lovely night, and you’re a lovely girl.”

Fuck it. I hugged the old bastard. He had a good light to him.

And damn if he didn’t take the chance to grab my ass.

I wasn’t totally shocked. Richard was joining thousands of guys who appreciated my ass.

This thing I carry around is pretty fucking spectacular. It is big. Lots of women think they have a big ass. Mine is legit big. Like, disproportionate to the rest of my frame big. When I work out a lot it does not get any smaller, just rounder. It has been “vocally admired” by men on the street since I was 11 years old. And thanks to Real Ass Pioneers like J. Lo, I have always thought it’s my best feature.

And now a 64-year old’s strong plumber hands were on it. What would it be like to have sex with a guy 40 years older than me? On the one hand, he was not bad looking for his age, and would definitely know what he was doing. On the other…ew.

Old people are better at patience. A guy my age would have run away if I didn’t kiss him right away. Richard waited, card on the table, allowing me to make up my mind about my next move.

I kissed his cheek.

“A lovely night it twas, Sir. Sleep well.”

He chuckled and gave me a brief hug, taking the rejection well. Hitting on a woman who could be your granddaughter takes some solid balls. I admired his cojones. I just didn’t want them in my mouth.

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