Gaby was a girl who taught me about life (name changed to protect the innocent). She was one of the sweetest girls I’ve ever met. I’ll never forget her. Tall and well shaped she caught the attention of everyone. Her almond-eyes were deep and sad, and you just wanted to hurry up to her and give her a long hug. And her memory was fantastic.

We had a short friendship. I fear that to her it was more than just a friendship. You know how it is: one always ends up getting hurt. But I knew it could never work between us. I don’t believe in destiny or serendipity.

She also had a serious BO problem and I don’t like girls with a lot of hair on their backs. Besides, I was a way-too-young boy-man on the verge of adulthood and she a 12,000 pound pachyderm, born in India.

She lived in the first open pen to the right and as soon as she saw me coming she would stomp to the thick steel rope that separated us and reach out with her hairy trunk, popping funny honk noises. I spent much time cleaning up after her, if you know what I mean. It was my job.

I also fed her and her family daily, and it’s amazing what that family could gulp down in a single day. I could bring in wheelbarrows of salad, and by the time I got back with the second load, the first had vanished and the herd would give me The Hungry Eye. There is something about a hungry herd of elephants staring you down — vegetarians or not.

Much of Gaby’s love for me probably stemmed from my slipping her snacks she wasn’t supposed to have. Despite her weight she wasn’t on a diet. She just wasn’t allowed to spoil her dinner. But like most women, she loved to be spoiled by me.

Mhm, that last sentence sounded… odd.

Still, one day a large shipment of loafs of bread arrived, destined to be sacrificed to the herd (all right, in this regard I do believe in destiny – Selective Destiny, as in: “you, my dear Mr. Chocolate Frappe, will become desert. So it is written. Right here in the menu.”)

The loafs however, were practically petrified. I could have burned out a radiocarbon unit on them and still not get the right age. Brooding as to how I was going to feed this to the herd, I spotted Gaby staring at me. Or maybe she was staring through me, at the heap of bread. In any case I took one of the round loaves and brought it over. It was the size of two phonebooks put together and it would have taken a jackhammer to make a sandwich.

Gabi-and-MeGaby reached out and grabbed the loaf with her powerful trunk. She didn’t hold it for long. Feeling at once that it was too hard to be chewed, she dropped it unceremoniously.

It didn’t stay on the ground for long – this was animal instinct at work. She took a step forward and brought her right foot down on the poor loaf.

There was but a dry crunch.

As she removed her five-toes only a heap of dust remained. I’m not kidding. Pulverized. Then, conscientiously, she began to sweep the heap together and shovel it into her mouth by way of her trunk (elephant do not use their trunks like vacuum cleaners – you try eating through your nose).

When she finished, she dropped her trunk and gave me that look that said “bring it on.” So I brought her another one.

I learned a valuable lesson from Gaby: when life comes at you hard and fast…

Step on it.

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