One of the best things about a relationship is that you develop your own little world. You learn each other’s signals. You partner up to face adversity. And, if you are lucky, you invent crazy little stories.

Hippopotamuses were one of those stories that Ailish and I shared.

I honestly have no idea how hippos came to hold a special significance for us, but I know they were well established within the first six months of our relationship.

Hippos had two major impacts in our imaginary world. First, they were what made you sleepy. By jumping on your head. And they sometimes peed on the floor.

No, really. It’s true. See, neither Ailish nor I would ever be clumsy enough to spill water on the floor. So how else could you explain it other than that the hippo did it? And how better to succeed at a Sunday afternoon nap than to invite a hippo to jump on your head? I mean, really, who wouldn’t be tired after such a commotion?

Pretty early on, we had a little stuffed toy hippo at my place, and one at Ailish’s. As we stayed together, our hippo collection multiplied. We watched the story of Jessica the Hippo with absolute amazement. When we visited the Calgary Zoo, we appreciated how dozy the hippopotamuses were because they are, after all, the source of all doziness.

By the time of her birthday this year, we had at least eight hippos around the house. I placed two of them in Ailish’s casket before she was cremated.

Judi Hale
July 29th, 2011 10:36 AM

Chris, thanks for that story. Now I look forward to watching the story of Jessica. I remember giving you the two wood hippos that sit on your dining table when you were about to propose to Ailish. I remember giving Ailish the blue hippo that you gave back to Ailish at her funeral. Best of all I remember the little hippo that I knitted Ailish for her 28th birthday. I treasure the email she sent me to thank me for it. You would think that nobody had given her a better present ever, for any birthday she had ever in the whole of her life before! She was so delighted and I’m glad that such a small gift made her so happy. If you want to read that email I’m happy to share it with you.

July 31st, 2011 11:16 AM

I was mending a giant sized stuffed hippo for my step daughter the other day, and I thought of you and Ailiish and the hippos.

I’m so glad to know that the source of all my insomnia is a lack of hippos jumping on my head. I shall be certain to invite them to do their thing in the future.

Hmm, maybe I need a sleep hat with hippos on it … that might work.

Christopher Thompson
December 1st, 2011 11:53 AM

I just adopted a hippo through the World Wildlife Fund: http://www.worldwildlife.org/gift-center/gifts/Species-Adoptions/Hippopotamus?gid=15

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