The hippopotamus is not a loser per se. It’s not really a winner, though, either. What it is is a “bronze medal winner.” A “quarterfinalist.” A “participation ribbon earner.” A “loser.” Wait, sorry, no. I didn’t mean that.
Perhaps I should provide an example. The hippopotamus is the third largest land mammal on the planet. That should be impressive. It’s a big boy. But it looks pathetic on the mantel, doesn’t it, hippo? It’s a mouthful of qualifiers to try to brag about, isn’t it, hippo’s mom?
More impressive than the hippo’s girth, but less discussed, is its special gravity. The hippopotamus can alter the density of objects in a close field around it, allowing it to have full control over whether it floats in water, walks along the river bottom, becomes unmovable, or hovers a foot above the ground.
The hippopotamus is horribly vulnerable to sunburn. It spends nearly all of its days submerged in mud and/or water hiding from the harsh rays of that angry yellow ball in the sky. Even that is not enough. The hippo goes so far as to secrete a natural sunscreen. This substance is called blood sweat, and that is disgusting.
Number of legs
The hippopotamus used to be known as the sea cow until the manatee took that moniker. It has also taken the names of river elephant and water horse. This last one has a Hollywood connection, as the recent Steven Spielberg drama “War Horse” was based on a screenplay about the hippopotamus that was subjected to studio meddling and typos.*
The hippopotamus has been accused of killing more tourists than any other large African animal. But no one has ever found the bodies.
What if it fought a bear?
It did. Nobody’s seen the bear since, but that’s circumstantial.
Is it noble?
The sun hates the hippo; who am I to argue?
Well, that’s strong. I don’t hate the hippopotamus. But I’m far from loving it.
*Benedict Cumberbatch was attached to play the gazelle.