My mother sees pink elephants.
|She didn’t expect an elephant.
My mother was driving along the freeway towards Portland one Saturday, not even thinking about elephants. But there was one.
I always thought of my mother as a good driver, even on the freeway. However, before my time, after Mom had learned to drive in her forties, my older sisters (they say) used to cower on the floor of the back seat whenever she took the wheel. I never felt afraid, though. By the
time I can remember riding in the car, Mom had mastered driving and looking at the same time.
So you see, the elephant must have been real.
It was just unfortunate that she was alone in the car when she glanced to her right and saw it, wandering happily along the top of the Willamette Slough dike by the Exhibition Hall, just on the other side of the Interstate Bridge. If I had been along, I’d have seen it, too, and she would have had a witness. But nobody believed her at all.
Not at home. Not at work. They teased her about her mind wandering off into a fantasy African savanna. We went through a lot of pink elephant jokes. Nobody believed there really had been an elephant.
But on the Monday, Mom came home waving the newspaper triumphantly.
“The circus is in town,” she announced. “It’s at the Exhibition Hall, near the Interstate Bridge.”
“That’s nice,” we all answered.
“The CIRCUS,” she repeated. “With ELEPHANTS. Their elephants have been grazing on the top of the dike all week. And they’re not pink, either.”
Ever since, I’ve always glanced to my right when passing the dike, because the Exhibition Hall is still there. I always hope to see an elephant, but I never have.
Not even a pink one.