Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Elephants in the Room

My eccentric grandmother had the habit when I was young of using her own drama to convince me that whatever surprise she had to offer was special and rare and wonderful, and it never was. Whatever it was, it was disappointing, meaningless and empty. There was something wrong with everything, whether it was something she cooked or sewed or bought (I think most of what she said she bought were things that someone else gave her that she didn't want, or that she dug out of her attic). Her house was full of beautiful hardwood carved furniture and her house looked unlike any other house I'd ever been in, as it reflected a mind that was bizarre, eclectic, and from 14 hours north (New York City) of where we were. Clutter with bold colors of red, gold, turquoise and black and old furniture crowded the house. The house smelled of moth balls and if anything was removed from the house the smell stayed forever. When she died, she left behind mountains of stuff that was so old almost all of it fell apart or was on its way to disintegration. Every week or so I have dreams I am back in that house, and last night I was there with zoo animals. There was an elephant on the screened-in porch, taking up the whole porch, and there was a tiger in the living room. They were resting on the floor, and they were sad because they wanted to go back to where they came from. The first time I heard the expression "the elephant in the room," it was at a work meeting, and I had no idea what the expression meant or what the elephant could possibly represent. I feel I never really know what that elephant is supposed to be, and, because it's a big elephant, and a euphemism for something that everyone sees but ignores because ... (why?) ... I feel forced to feel that I should know but I don't.