Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hey, Hippo!

a true story, retold by Daddy

Jessica has had an imaginary friend named Rabbit for a couple of years now. We hear a lot about Rabbit; when we go out anywhere, Jessica tells us at least one time, "That's Rabbit's car!" (Rabbit has a remarkably diverse set of vehicles at his disposal, we've learned.) On our way to anywhere that requires us to go down residential streets, we will inevitably hear, "That's Rabbit's house!" Sometimes, it turns out, Rabbit has two or three houses on the same street. We've even been told, "Rabbit goes to that church."

Recently, Jessica started pointing out Rabbit to us at public places like Kroger or CiCi's or Stone Mountain Park. Rabbit changes form often, but usually appears to be a typical, unsuspecting shopper or diner who doesn't quite understand why he or she (Rabbit has no set gender) is being pointed to by a three-year-old.

Rabbit and Jessica have another friend, Hippo, who came into being, we believe, because of the giant purple hippopotamus we have in our living room (of the stuffed-animal kind), and because of Sandra Boynton's tendency to write about hippos in her books.

Jessica has also been pointing out Hippo to us.

Recently Jessica and I went to Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast. Near the end of the meal, when Jessica's face was covered with chocolate frosting and sprinkles and so was the table, a man in a dress shirt and tie came in with a newspaper under his arm. "That's Rabbit!" Jessica said. "Hey, Rabbit!"

Rabbit went about the business of ordering his bran muffin and coffee, paying us no mind. Jessica went after the last of the chocolate frosting.

A moment later another man came in. He shall I put this kindly?...a very big man. The kind of man who's probably self-conscious about his weight and the attention it may sometimes draw. However, his size and possible related insecurities were all immaterial to Jessica; she's oblivious to such things. What mattered to Jessica was simply that he was the person who walked in right after Rabbit.

And that's the reason Jessica pointed at him and said, "And there's Hippo! Hey, Hippo!"

I don't know if the man heard her or not; I hope not. If he did, I hope he understands a thing or two about three-year-olds.

But I was turning a little red. "Um, Honey, I think Hippo wants some time to himself," I said, quietly but urgently. "Let's leave Hippo alone for now. Let him enjoy his donut. We'll probably see him tomorrow."

And we cleaned up and departed without incident, leaving Rabbit and Hippo to enjoy their breakfasts in peace.

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