Elephants. The Pumpkin Man loves Elephants. They are by far his favorite zoo-bound animal. He loses his toddler shit whenever we see an elephantine representation. “Eh-ephant, Eh-ephant!” he calls between his adorably sorry attempts at making the trumpeting sound we associate with the great beasts.
The other day, I found The Story Of Babar in our little library.
I’d never read it, but I vaguely remembered the cartoons that were on HBO when I was little, and it seemed like a great idea.
I gathered the little elephetishist into my lap and began reading.
Why didn’t anyone warn me? This story . . .
In the first three pages, we see Babar as an infant. We see him grow into a happy, well-adjusted tween. Then we see–this is actually illustrated–his mother get shot and killed by a hunter. They don’t show the hunter pry out her tusks for the black market ivory trade, but only because the hunter takes off in pursuit of the baby elephant. So that he can kill it, too.
Babar escapes. After awhile, he comes to a city. He’s impressed by men in clothes. A “Fine Old Lady” gives him her purse so he can by a suit. Then she takes him in, funds his lavish lifestyle (gigolo much?), and generally encourages him to forsake his culture and embrace assimilation, which he does. Some of you may think I’m reading too much into it at this point. Some of you are honkeys.
Then his little cousins Arthur and Celeste come to visit. He immediately lays some of his Old Lady’s cash on them. He dresses them up like a sailor and Eleanor Roosevelt respectively, and they’re soon forgetting who they are and from where they came.
They decide on a whim to go back and visit the jungle. You know, a “let’s see how the other half lives” sort of thing. This is where the story gets fucked up.
When they get there, they find that the Elephant King has died. The tribal elders are so impressed by Babar’s ability to drive a car, wear suspenders, and suppress himself, they appoint him the new king, right on the spot.
Upon hearing the news Babar immediately marries Celeste. His own cousin. Because incest always makes for great children’s literature. He appoints Arthur, the younger of the two cousins, his general. Then he leaves his cousin in charge and he and Celeste fly away in a big Hot Air Balloon for a long honeymoon, during which we can all assume they will be attempting to make mildly disfigured, royal abomination babies.
We read this whole book together, my 1 1/2 year old and I. I guess because I just kept believing it wouldn’t get any worse. And now he’s versed in cousin-fucking.