The Lover And His Lass

An arrogant gray parrot and his arrogant mate listened, one African afternoon, in disdain and derision, to the lovemaking of a lover and his lass, who happened to be hippopotamuses. “He calls her snooky-ookums,” said Mrs. Gray. “Can you believe that?”

“No,” said Gray. “I don’t see how any male in his right mind could entertain affection for a female that has no more charm than a capsized bathtub.”

“Capsized bathtub, indeed!” exclaimed Mrs. Gray. “Both of them have the appeal of a coastwise fruit steamer with a cargo of water-logged basketballs.”

But it was spring, and the lover and his lass were young, and they were oblivious of the scornful comments of their sharp-tongued neighbors, and they continued to bump each other around in the water, happily pushing and pulling, backing and filling, and snorting and snaffling.

The tender things they said to each other during the monolithic give-and-take of their courtship sounded as lyric to them as flowers in bud or green things opening.

To the Grays, however, the bumbling romp of the lover and his lass was hard to comprehend and even harder to tolerate, and for a time they thought of calling the A.B.I., or African Bureau of Investigation, on the ground that monolithic lovemaking by enormous creatures who should have become decent fossils long ago was probably a threat to the security of the jungle. But they decided instead to phone their friends and neighbors and gossip about the shameless pair, and describe them in mocking and monstrous metaphors involving skidding buses on icy streets and overturned moving vans.

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Late that evening, the hippopotamus and the hippopotama were surprised and shocked to hear the Grays exchanging terms of endearment. “Listen to those squawks,” wuffled the male hippopotamus.

“What in the world can they see in each other?” gurbled the female hippopotamus.

“I would as soon live with a pair of unoiled garden shears,” said her inamoratas.

They called up their friends and neighbors and discussed the incredible fact that a male gray parrot and a female gray parrot could possibly have any sex appeal. It was long after midnight before the hippopotamuses stopped criticizing the Grays and fell asleep, and the Grays stopped maligning the hippopotamuses and retired to their beds.

MORAL: Laugh and the world laughs with you, love and you love alone.

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