Some of us learned very early how to dance with the elephant.
We were smart and we were aware, and somewhere, close to us, there was an elephant that scared the heck out of us. That elephant was a big, narccistic person who never seemed to notice the little people around them, instead being always ready to stomp down.
If we didn't want to get stomped on, we always had to be primed and ready to leap out of the way, always had to be invisible and quiet so not to rouse them. We knew this because we knew the moments they decided to pound the ground, and knew how we had been hurt.
Miss Paige knows this dance. Her mother even locked her out of the house naked one day. Today, though she can perform with others, Miss Paige is always the introvert, aware of trying not to "hurt" people, sensitive to people who take out their own desperation on her. Every time someone acts like an elephant, a little bit of her remembers those days and shudders with a deep laced pain.
When I walk though a store I am always amazed at how people are unconcious of those around them, how they don't keep aware and primed. I'm amazed that anyone didn't have to learn to dance with the elephant, anyone didn't have to keep sensitive at all times.
There is an old line about US/Canada relations that Canada is like a mouse in bed with an elephant — we have to be very sensitive to when the elephant rolls in the night. That always made sense to me, but I bet it wouldn't make sense to an elephant.
Even now, as I write about this, I can feel the tension between my shoulders, the mild headache that keeps me alert.
Some of us, the ones pushed to the margins to keep others comfortable, the ones who could get right up someone's nose, well, we had to learn to dance with the elephant.
And once you have felt the pounding caress of those toes, it's not something that's easy to get over.