At the risk of offending fans of elephant rectums, I am not one of you.

Truth is, they terrify me. Any time I get in close proximity to one, I shove the side of my hand into my mouth to quell a shriek. Sweat dampens my brow. I shiver uncontrollably as the memories flood back.

“What memories?” you ask. It was decades ago and I can only talk about it now.

I was a small boy. Six or seven. My mother and her friend Norma took me, my sister, Leigh, and Norma’s kids, Valerie and Vickie, to the movies. Time has erased from my mind the name of the movie, but I do recall it was about a family who lived in an undersea house with a seal and sang “Hey little goldfish” to a goldfish. I only mention this, because, at the time of the incident I was in a state of euphoria over that movie. I was going to grow up and live in an undersea house with a seal. It was going to be wonderful. The thought of it had me walking on clouds.

We were on our way home when something just as great happened. We spotted a real, live elephant standing in a McDonald’s parking lot. Nothing doing, but Norma wheeled her car into the parking lot.

There were two men with the elephant. One man wore a red jacket and a top hat. The other one wore work clothes and held a short stick in his hand. It turns out they were from a circus and they were there to drum up business. Top Hat told us the elephant was going to do some tricks in a few minutes. The best news of all was the show was free.

This particular McDonald’s had a small, concrete amphitheater of sorts beside the parking lot where they put on kid shows. Nothing doing, but our moms bought us a few cheeseburgers and Cokes (no such thing as Happy Meals back then) and took our seats on the front row of the little amphitheater. And here’s the great thing about it – hardly anybody was there. Except for a couple of other families, we were it.

As promised the men and the elephant took their place on the concrete pad of the amphitheater. The guy in the red jacket talked a lot. The man with the stick shouted orders to the elephant in a language none of us understood. The elephant reared up on its back legs. We cheered. He shouted something else. The elephant stood on its front legs. We really cheered. The elephant lifted the trainer off the ground while he sat on the elephant’s trunk. I forgot all about living undersea. My life’s ambition was to be lifted off the ground by an elephant.

We ate our hamburgers. We watched the show. Red jacket talked. The trainer shouted orders. The elephant did its thing. Came the grand finale. The trainer shouted something and whirled the stick in the air. The elephant twirled around in a circle – fast.

Around the third twirl the elephant’s tail went straight up. I can safely say that never before and never since have I seen that volume of anything issue out of a living, breathing organism. It wasn’t the can-shaped output of a healthy animal, either, but a spray. And what a spray it was. It shot out roughly half the elephant’s body length meaning we were sitting at ground zero of the spray radius.

Whap! Our lower legs and feet were speckled with the former contents of an elephant. My sister and Norma’s girls screamed. I froze up, staring at my dirty pant legs and shoes.

Round two struck a little higher. The pants around my knees had globs of an elephant’s breakfast on them.

It was then that I heard my sainted mother shout, “Norma! Get these kids out of way before that thing &@*!@# all over us!”

The word, &@*!@#, was a new one one me. I was storing it away for later retrieval and analysis when maternal hands snatched me and my sister bodily away just before the third wave hit. Whap! It went. Our cheeseburgers and drinks became collateral damage.

The trainer shouted and the elephant stopped twirling. The twirling was the only thing that stopped. The back end of the elephant continued its purge. And purge it did. And purge. I will spare you the details, but suffice to say the elephant had to have experienced an enormous amount of relief.

The last I saw of them, the elephant was in its trailer. Red Jacket and the trainer was walking toward the amphitheater dragging a trash can and carrying the widest shovels I had ever seen.

Fast forward a dozen years. I was in college. The circus was in town. Giant tents occupied part of the parking lot for my college’s student parking. To impress a girl, I slipped through a man-high air vent in the side of the tent. It was dark inside. When my eyes adjusted I saw two things. One was a gigantic white tiger in a cage. The other thing, standing not ten feet in front of me, was the backside of elephant.

I heard the Friday the 13th music that plays when the killer in the hockey mask strikes. Had that elephant started twirling, I may not be here to write this article. I backed out of the tent, shook up but otherwise okay.

That was my last elephant rectum encounter. I hope it is my last.