Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Water for Elephants (copy)

He’s 90, or maybe 93, he just can’t remember, as he waits for yet another nurse to follow him like a shadow. Now, that he has fallen and broken his hip, only once mind you, the whole staff seems to sidle near him when he even thinks of moving. Today he catches the old biddies all a flutter at the hall window.

Why wait? He swings his walker forward, leading with the right foot and only slightly dragging the left, as he advances down the hall. No one will notice and he will be alongside the biddies in 15 minutes, tops. He smiles, humming hokey-pokey, as he reaches the hens without any assistance.

Hazel commands the others to make room for Jacob as she situates herself closest to him. “Oh, it’s so exciting! They’ve been at it all morning!”

As Jacob looks up from his walker, the white and magenta stripped tent comes into view. He suddenly clutches his chest as his heart races with pleasure or is it dread.

“Nurse! Nurse! Hurry! It’s Mr. Jankowski!”

Later that day, Jacob, resigned to his wheelchair, is rolled directly across from the new guy at his lunch table. Why does this old coot get to sit with him and the ladies? Did they think we would have something in common? I mean, I was a vet and he was a lawyer, two totally different professions.

The ladies are all talking at once about the circus, of course, when mightier than thou spits out, (Don’t lawyers have any manners?) “I once carried water for the elephants.”

“What?!? You did no such thing! You old coot!” Dang it, my heart is again banging louder than a marching drum. Why is it every yahoo seems to think they can tell the world they carried water for elephants? Not our elephant. Not our Rosie. She drank tons, not gallons, of the stuff and if she had it her way, it would be lemonade.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen is a gritty, coming-of-age tale set in 1930’s depression era America. Our hero, Jacob, retells his life as a fallen Cornell student. One, who in desperation, jumps a train in the middle of the night. Not just any train, though. It’s the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth!

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