The Elephant in the Room

I’ll admit that I had never heard the term “Elephant in the room” before.  I had to ask my husband what it meant and boy did he paint a picture.  Then I went online and checked it out further.  What I read brought me to several conclusions, the most important of which being that I needed to write a blog just for people like me who may not know the multiple ways that the phrase can be interpreted.

Elephant in the room does not refer to an actual elephant in your room.  At least I don’t think it does.  If that were the case I picture someone sitting on the sofa knitting or crocheting while a gigantic elephant sits next to the sofa with a lampshade on its head much like Uncle Cornwallace after a few too many Crown Royals.

The example given by Wikipedia was the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes.  I remember reading that as a girl and snicker at my twelve year-old self pointing at the word “naked” as though it were a curse word that had slipped through the cracks, allowing the book to be shelved at the school library.

While I can see how that story would apply I of course take the humorous possibilities and run with them.  For instance the young guy at a party who is laying his charms on all of the pretty girls.  He notices that his shoe is untied and makes a big show of bending over to tie it only to be greeted by the sickening rrriiippp as his pants split down the seam.  He knows they’ve ripped.  He knows that the girls saw everything.  Yet no one wants to be the first to laugh. 

If I were there of course I wouldn’t be able to show such restraint.

Let me set the scene for this next one:  A large conference room in a high-rise building downtown.  You’re there with your boss and associates.  Who knows how it happened.  Perhaps you were running late or just simply forgot to turn off your cell phone.  All you know is that right in the middle of your boss’ lecture on new ideas for company protocol your phone starts buzzing and out of your pocket blares the most inappropriate ringtone you can imagine.  Instinctively, your co-worker’s heads whip around to find the source of the obscene intrusion.  And what do you do?  Look over your shoulder as if it wasn’t coming from you.  You aren’t fooling anyone yet there is no way you will admit to liking Justin Bieber in a corporate setting.

Not all of the elephants are humorous (at least not to those involved).  I first heard the term “Frenemy” on the Tyra Banks show.  These are the people that you pretend to be friends with on the outside but inside you’d just as soon step on their faces as talk to them.  Maybe they are work-related acquaintances or perhaps friends of your parents or spouse.  Or it could be that the person is just someone you have known all your life.  All you know is that nothing gives you greater pleasure than out-shining, out-thinking, and out-scoring this person.  They of course feel the same about you but neither of you will admit to stooping down to an eighth-grade level to compete with the other over something that no one cares about anyway.

And finally we have one of the most embarrassing of all.  Picture this:  You are sitting on the sofa with your significant other watching television, maybe discussing world politics.  All of a sudden, without any advance warning whatsoever, you pass gas audibly.  You heard it.  Your companion heard it.  You know this because of the wrinkling of their nose that is gone as soon as it arrived. 

The situation has become critical.  If you remain silent it will be very apparent that you not only broke wind but are mortified by it.  Instead you try to cover it up either by clearing your throat or trying to mimic the sound vocally so that JUST MAYBE they will think you did it with your mouth.  Yeah right.  It was YOU and you both know it.

Personally, I find that the elephant in the room just makes people even more uncomfortable.  If your cell phone goes off at an inappropriate time then break into dance!  If you accidentally toot in mixed company just say excuse me!  As for the rip in your pants, make sure you have some great underwear on and you’re blessed with segue to a new, less shameful topic.  And that frenemy?  Ahh, just smack em!  You’ll feel better.

...well, maybe you shouldn’t do that last one.

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