A Hippo in the Kitchen
There was a hippo in the kitchen. No one knew how it got there, or when, but there was undeniably an enormous, sloppy, disheveled hippo in the kitchen.
“And,” I said, examining the lunch my mother had spread in the middle of the table, “to make matters worse, he’s a double-dippo hippo.”
“A what?” my father said.
“He dips once,” my mother said, frowning at the hummus bowl on the table, “bites, and then dips again.”
“And that’s not all,” my sister added. “He’s also a slurping-sippo hippo!”
“A what?” my father asked again.
“He slurps when he sips,” my sister said patiently, crossing her arms as the hippo knocked over his glass, spilling milk on the floor.
“As if that weren’t enough,” my mother said, “he’s also a clumsy-trippo hippo.”
“Now what can that possibly mean?” my father asked.
As if on cue, the hippo tried to stand up, but his big belly caught under the table. He staggered backward, tripped on his chair, and belly-flopped right into the middle of the table, smashing it to smithereens and sending carrots flying.
My father eyed the mess, his mustache quivering. “I’ll tell you one thing,” he said, “he’s a not-long-for-this-shippo hippo.”
“That doesn’t make any sense, Dad,” I said.
My father’s face grew red. “He’s an out-of-here-in-a-zippo hippo!”
My little sister shook her head sadly.
“An I’M-GOING-TO-FLIPPO HIPPO!” my father hollered.
The hippo, meanwhile, was trying to extricate himself from the wreckage of the table and spilled food and was making an awful mess of it. He finally managed to push himself to his feet before slipping on the milk, pinwheeling his arms, then landing with a THUD snout first in the plate of ruined hummus.
“Ahem,” my father said, clearing his throat.
The hippo looked up out of the corner of his eye.
“I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” my father said.
The hippo’s mouth quivered. “Is it because I double dipped?” he asked.
“Is it because I slurping sipped?” the hippo asked, tears brimming in his giant eyes.
“Is it because I broke the kitchen table when I tripped?” the hippo asked, bursting into wails.
“YES,” my father bellowed. “IT’S BECAUSE OF ALL OF THOSE THINGS.”
The hippo’s sobbing shook the kitchen. “I’m sorry,” he sniveled. “It’s just that I get so hungry.” He pushed himself up, knocking over Mom’s begonias as he did. “I’ll go now.” The hippo sniffed and started for the door, his head hanging low.
“Wait,” I said. “Maybe I could help him, you know, adjust,” I said to my father.
My mother looked at me. “He’s a hippo.”
My father looked at me. “And he’s no smart-as-a-whippo hippo.”
My little sister looked at me. “I could help too,” she offered. “I could teach him how to eat neat.”
My mother frowned. “I suppose I can help him think when he drinks,” she said.
“And I,” I finished with a flourish, “shall show him to move smooth!”
The hippo wiped a hoof across his great snout. “Do you mean it?” he said, the tears vanishing in his eyes and a broad smile beaming out from his face. “Do you really mean it?”
“Sure,” I said. “After all, I myself am no perfect kiddo.”
My father rolled his eyes and we all sat on the floor and ate lunch.