Archive for the ‘Hippos and Dooney’ Category

We were all ready to go home by Sunday morning. We had a good time, but even the beach can wipe you out after awhile.

While Diamondqueen took a load of bags down to the car, I snapped a photo of the hippos and Dooney the cheetah on our room balcony. Funny, they didn’t look tired at all.

We still needed to get breakfast. The night before, Diamondqueen had dug out the local phone book and discovered two listings for Krispy Kreme stores. So instead of starting out along the Mapquest-recommended route, we started up a parallel boulevard, keeping our eyes peeled for one of those miraculous green and white stores with the neon sign announcing hot doughnuts. (We had them for awhile in the Cincinnati area. One burned down and another closed. We can get Krispy Kreme just about anywhere, from Kroger’s to the Shell station, but it’s just not the same.)

It felt as if we were driving forever, but intense pursuit has that effect. At last, we spotted Nirvana. As we pulled into the parking lot, we saw that there was a line that nearly ran out the front door. So strong was the attraction, though, that we went in anyhow.

Most patrons were taking their doughnuts with them, so we were able to get a cramped table near the front windows. I’d forgotten how amazing a hot, fresh glazed doughnut tastes.

While we were eating, we kept our eyes on a pair of dogs outside. They appeared to be a golden Lab and maybe a weimaraner, and they were sitting in the back of a pick-up truck inside a camper cap with the back window open. They gazed continually at the front door, and it was easy to imagine they were anticipating a doughnut eventually. One kept resting his/her chin on the top of the tailgate. They were adorable. We kept hoping their owner would come out so we could see how the dogs reacted, but they were still waiting as we cleaned up our things.

They were parked next to the van, so of course Diamondqueen had to say something to them. “Aw, are you waiting for a doughnut,” she cooed in her sweetest I-love-doggies voice.

In a flash the golden Lab-like dog transformed into Cujo, barking ferociously with tremendous warning and authority. Diamondqueen recoiled as she was opening the van door for J.Hooligan, and we grimaced in horror at one another. Hours later, halfway between Richmond and Charlottesville, she muttered, “I’m not talking to any more strange doggies!”, still taken aback by the encounter. Maybe the poor beast simply hadn’t had his morning coffee yet.


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After our dinner in the hotel restaurant, Diamondqueen, the Hooligans, and I went out for a stroll on the boardwalk. Naturally, we had to take the two hippos with us. After all, they’d come with all their beach gear and were ready for a good time.

J.Hooligan dressed Harold the Hippo in his shades and muscle tee. Since the boardwalk was as crowded as a state fair midway, we went aside on the brick walkway of the old Coast Guard Station so Harold could surf unperturbed. J.Hooligan looked on proudly.

S.Hooligan’s hippo wore her new bikini. (I’ve lost track of the  hippo’s name now. At first it was Nancy. Then it was Zoey, and possibly Lily. S. is fond of naming things Zoey and Lily, including one troublesome imaginary friend.) S. agreed the hippo could pose splendidly on the Coast Guard long boat.

Finally, I got the Hooligans and hippos and Diamondqueen to pose around the big anchor near the amphitheater. Friday night in Virginia Beach on the boardwalk — those hippos know how to live!





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I don’t know about the rest of us, but the hippos and Dooney the Cheetah are decked out and counting the minutes until our trip to Virginia Beach. (You can’t really see it in the picture, but Dooney has the cutest little coconut shell bra.) They’ll be taking their surfboards, skateboards, and other fun-time gear as well. Too bad they can’t help load and unload the van.

Virginia, here we come! (By the way, that hideous green and white polka-dotted suitcase is NOT mine. It’s Diamondqueen’s.)


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Like the rest of us, the Christmas hippos and Dooney the cheetah are ready to celebrate their Irish heritage today. (Actually, we’re not sure any of them are truly Irish, but Diamondqueen and the Hooligan children just couldn’t resist the cool duds.)

Dooney is wearing the ideal step-dancing dress, complete with Celtic knot embroidery. I can just see her doing her slip jig (feet crossed, up on your toes, kick your butt, Dooney!). Harold, dressed as a cross between a leprechaun and an old-time dance hall “Irish” character, looks as if he’s already been celebrating this weekend. My father often looked like this after St. Patrick’s Day, although without the green suit. (However, he did once appear on the local news wearing a green derby and hoisting a mug of green beer at a crowded pub; his mother, Grandma Mary, declared she was “mortified to death!”)

Diamondqueen and I agree that Nancy the hippo looks more hausfrau than colleen in this dress. In fact, Diamondqueen is already planning to borrow that dress for Dooney for Octoberfest next fall. However, Nancy looks very festive for today’s celebration; the only thing missing is a big platter of soda bread. And since she’s decked out in green, she doesn’t have to worry about getting pinched. (Does anyone even do that anymore?)

I haven’t personally gone out celebrating at pubs on St. Patrick’s Day for many years now. When the holiday falls on a weekend, I’ve sometimes gone out to lunch at Claddagh’s or someplace like that. Usually I buy Irish cheese and a six-pack of Guinness, but it takes me until mid-summer to drink it all. (My stomach can’t take much alcohol these days.) Since I’ve been fighting a mild migraine all weekend, I haven’t even had my Guinness yet. Maybe tomorrow night — after we go see J.Hooligan in a St. Patrick’s Day show at his school.

Of course, we’re a little concerned: J. has warned us that he has a tendency to tear up during their closing song, a musical version of the “Irish Blessing.” I told him if he cried during a song like that, every person in the audience with a drop of Irish blood would worship him. He says he’s still nervous, though. (I just hope I don’t tear up during the children singing the “Irish Blessing”!)

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I described here how I was giving the Hooligan children hippos for Christmas in response to their love of the song “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” In the end, I also decided to gift Diamondqueen with a set of swank clothes and a gift card so she build her own creature of her own choosing at the Build-A-Bear store.

The gifts were a success all around, and the day after Christmas saw us fighting the mall crowds to return to Build-A-Bear for some shopping. Here and above, the Hooligans show off outfits they selected for their respective hippos, Harold and Nancy. (Their hippos had come with $10 gift cards, and they added funds from their own piggy banks.) J.Hooligan selected hippos_clothes2-small-web-view.jpga dinosaur t-shirt and denim shorts, Skechers, roller skates, and a helmet and knee pad set. He also chose dinosaur pajamas, and bunny slippers that resemble the ones he himself received for St. Nicholas. (All this sartorial shopping by a kid who removed his hippo’s Cub Scout shirt on Christmas Eve as soon as he opened his gift because he thought his hippo “looked better without it.”)

S.Hooligan went straight for a pair of red sparkly shoes (like ruby slippers from her beloved Wizard of Oz), then decided on an outfit that featured scotties — perhaps in tribute to her grandma’s affection for scottie collectibles. S. also picked out a pink fabric purse and sparkly pink purse (S.Hooligan is a pink and sparkles kind of gal). When she saw J.Hooligan’s dino pajamas, she decided her hippo needed these items as well.

Diamondqueen selected a cheetah2.gifcheetah to “build” and named her “Dooney” in tribute to Diamondqueen’s obsession with Dooney & Bourke purses. The clothes I’d picked out for Christmas were a pink top with black polka dots and a coat, hat, and purse in pink trimmed with leopard skin (faux, naturally). Diamondqueen thinks it’s the height of chic for a cheetah to be dressed in leopard skin. Judge here for yourselves.

She also chose a flouncy gown trimmed in gold and a pair of “glass” slippers for Dooney to wear on New Year’s Eve at the Hooligan manse. I personally was dressed in jeans and a sweater, but I was surrounded by happy hippos (and a cheetah) dressed to the nines!



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Call me a Scrooge or whatever Christmas sourpuss you can think of, but I simply can’t stand the song, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” Twittered by Munchkin-voiced Gayla Peevey, the hippo song gives me a twitch every time I hear it. In fact, the first time I heard it just a few years ago, I thought it was a new novelty song, presented by some Pee-wee Herman kind of character. I was shocked when I found out the record was released the Christmas before I was born (1953) and that it was actually a little girl singing it. I don’t know how I managed to grow up never hearing this record.

I’m obviously in the minority regarding my opinion of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” if my immediate family is any indication. Not only do Diamondqueen and the Hooligan kiddies adore this song, but my mother is fond of it, too. The difference is my mother doesn’t torture me with Gayla Peevey and the hippo. Diamondqueen and the Hooligans do it from November 1 on.

Diamondqueen makes sure the hippo song is included at least once on every holiday CD she mixes. These CDs accompany us on our sojourns throughout the holiday season, so I hear “Hippopotamus” a lot. To make matters worse, the kids request the song specifically or ask their mother to play it again once the bouncy little number is done — they know I’ll scream in agony, which is the whole point. 

I’ve intended to buy the kids and/or Diamondqueen some kind of hippo for Christmas for several years now. Either I forget about it, or when I’m out shopping I can’t find a hippo (stuffed or otherwise) to save my life. I haven’t ruled out my subconscious deliberately blocking any thoughts of hippos in order to save my sanity.

Last Friday I had the afternoon off, so I joined Mom, Diamondqueen, and S.Hooligan for a girls’ lunch at Macaroni Grill. Afterward, we went across the street to the big Kenwood Town Center mall to look around. There’s a Build-a-Bear store there, and Diamondqueen insisted we go in. 

Right away I noticed they offered a hippopotamus to stuff and dress. Foregoing the element of surprise, I told Diamondqueen how I’d always meant to get a Christmas hippo for the kids; even though I already have gifts for the Hooligans, their mother approved of my plan to acquires hippos as well (partly because she wanted to participate in the whole building process herself).

S.Hooligan can’t keep a secret, so telling her not to let J.Hooligan in on this surprise gift was a futile exercise. S.Hooligan, though, fibs and makes up sensational stories on a regular basis. We decided if S. spilled the hippo beans to J.Hooligan, we’d all act like she was making stuff up again. 

We picked out two of the velvety hippo skins and carried them to the attendant at the stuffing machine. It turns out there’s a whole ritual to this Build-a-Bear stuff: First S. and I each had to pick out a padded satin heart from a bin attached to the stuffing machine. Then we had to press the hearts to various parts of our bodies to imbue them with certain powers and virtues (the forehead had something to do with good thoughts, I believe). Then we had to kiss the hearts and put them into our respective hippo skins. S.Hooligan seemed taken aback by all this, unsure what was going on and getting that certain scowl on her face.

The attendant placed my hippo skin over a wide tube opening into the stuffing machine. As instructed, I stepped on a pedal, and the machine whirred to life, a blizzard of white fluff whirling within and shooting through the tube and into my hippo, which plumped up beautifully. The attendant did something with a lacing that closed and sealed the hippo, and voila! A Christmas hippo was born. (I have to admit he/she was incredibly soft and huggable — the hippo, I mean, not the attendant — and I’m not into stuffed animals, and wasn’t as a child.) 

S.Hooligan was uncertain about stepping on that pedal, and she had trouble keeping enough pressure on it, so Diamondqueen and I lent sole weight to bring S.’s hippo into cuddly being. There were other activities we could participate in (there was a party of kids in the back being led through some kind of chant about their new creatures), but we went straight to the computer to fill in the information for the “birth certificate.”

Diamondqueen, after looking around, asked if we could buy each hippo an outfit if she paid for it. That was fine by me. S.Hooligan picked out her hippo’s outfit, a stretch knit dress covered with 70s-style flowers in pink, not unlike a dress S. herself wore last summer. Since J.Hooligan is in Cub Scouts, we decided to buy a blue Scout shirt for his hippo.

Each hippo was packed into a house-like box with windows dye-cut into the sides. S.Hooligan insisted on lugging her box all through the mall. I don’t know how she did it. I got tired enough just carrying J.Hooligan’s box. 

“Remember, it’s a secret!” I reminded S.Hooligan as we parted. Mom said Diamondqueen also drilled S. in the car about not telling J.Hooligan about the hippo. S. assured her mother she understood.

However, that evening, when we all got together for a ride in the van to view Christmas lights, S.Hooligan said loudly (with J. sitting right next to her), “Nancy, did you take the hippos to Grandma’s?” I pretended I didn’t understand what she was talking about, simultaneously rolling my eyes at Josh.

Later she brought the hippos up again.

“What’s she talking about?” J.Hooligan asked. 

“Oh, she’s probably just making stuff up again,” I replied. I thought S. looked a little hurt and subdued, but she shut up about the hippos.

Not that she learned her lesson. All week, S.Hooligan has openly discussed the hippos in front of J.Hooligan. On Monday, she arrived at her grandma’s house asking about the hippos, and Mom showed her the two big boxes I’d wrapped and put far back behind the tree over the weekend. On Monday evening, when I brought J. home after taking him to his swimming lesson, S.Hooligan raced up to me and proclaimed something about wrapping the hippos.

Later, I told S. I had to tell her something important and took her alone to the living room. “You’re not supposed to talk about the hippos in front of J. The hippos are secret!” I whispered.

“Oh, I was just kidding!” S. responded gleefully. She assured me she knew the hippos were supposed to be kept secret from J. She knows, but she’s finding it impossible to keep mum. 

Cross your fingers that we can maintain this compromised level of “secrecy” a few more nights. The hippos will be revealed in all their glory on Christmas Eve when the Hooligans come to Grandma’s for their gifts.

J.Hooligan is nobody’s fool, though. I wonder if he suspects anything yet?

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