Pink Plastic Elephants

When elephants from the same herd re-encounter one another in the wild, it’s not unusual for them to defecate in joy. That’s how I felt when I unwrapped the Noah’s Ark I received for Christmas when I was eight.

The animals, which didn’t fit inside the ark, came separately, in two clear plastic bags. They weren’t intended to be realistic, but neither were they blatantly “cute,” like many of the toy animals I owned. They didn’t pander. They didn’t come with human clothes or ribbons in their hair. Indeed, there was nothing human about them. They came from another world—a world where animals were happy, plump, and outrageously colorful. One of the camels had a blue snout; the lion had a pink mane; the kangaroo couple both appeared to be wearing lipstick. The squirrels were atomic orange, and the alligators electric green. But they all paled beside the elephants.