This is the story of two hippopotami that came to live with me. Came may not be the right word. I brought them to live with me on a whim. I passed a big yard sale one Saturday morning last November, and the only thing that really caught my eye there as a small blue pottery hippopotamus. She is the color of lapis lazuli, and elegantly tattoeed with lotuses all over her body. I knew at once that she was Egyptian, probably royalty. The princess Nefertari, far from Egypt in Arizona. She looked so serene and so out of place that I decided to take her away from all that squalor. After a short negotiation, she entered my company, and went for a long walk.
As I walked I heard this tiny voice say, “Where’s Clyde?” I knew at once that the hippo princess was talking to me.
“I left him behind,” I answered. “You are so elegant, and he is not. That other hippo is the kind of guy that has birds on his butt. He’s a bumpkin.”
“He is my only friend. I will be so lonely without him.”
“I will see what I can do.”
As I walked home, I went by the yard sale again. There was no sign of the second hippo, so I asked. The sale coordinator said, “Oh yes, I was just about to give him to Good Will. She pulled a large cardboard box open and extracted a brown hippopotamus.
“The blue one will be lonely without him.” I explained.
“Then you shouldn’t break them up,” she said. Thus it came to pass that two pottery hippopotami came to live with me. One is blue and one is brown–sky and earth personified, or maybe the word should be hipponified.
Now they live by my restroom sink–the watering hole. Today they came out to the new computer to inspire me and make certain that I told their story properly. I have done what I can. I don’t really know their stories, just that they belong together. Nefertari is elegance and complacency. She is demure, solid, and wise. She looks down all the time. Clyde is lean, athletic, plain, and friendsly. He must be friendly to allow a family of birds to perch on his buttocks. He is alert, and his eyes look up at the sky. His ears are continually perked upwards. The two of them really don’t fit together very well, but fate has united them, and one without the other would be so incomplete.
I imagine them at night turning on the faucet and lowering themselves into the water hole to take a swim. Sometimes I think they are in different positions when I wake up in the morning. Nah, couldn’t be, could it?