I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

River horse, the Greeks called it, this thing that is in my pool on Christmas morning, this thing that was all my daughter wanted, that somehow she convinced Old Saint Nick to deliver unto her.

I stare at it, this beast that has already been christened, that was named before we finished with the stockings, before we finished with the fruitless annual scratching of lottery tickets. I stare at her, at Gloria, and she yawns at me, indifferent to my very existence.

“Daddy,” my daughter says, tugging at the dangling belt of my robe. “Daddy,” she says, “all she needs now is a tutu and she’ll look just like the girl in Fantasia!”

A tutu, I think. On a motherfucking hippopotamus.

She gets these ideas, I think, from my wife, who decided this year, my daughter’s tenth, that she was ready to hear of Mommy’s famous letter to Santa Claus. When she was a freshly minted twentysomething with a thing for fat dudes, my wife wrote a letter to Old Kringle himself and asked for all manner of ridiculous gifts. There was a 1954 convertible, light blue, and a yacht, and a platinum mine, and she got it all.

My daughter tugs on the robe again. “Daddy,” she says, “are you mad about the hippopotamus?”

“No, dear,” I say.

“Will you get Gloria the tutu then? I mean, I know I said she was all I wanted, but what about what she wants?”

“I’ll get her a tutu,” I say, because I’m a sucker, because I’m a dad and being a sucker is in the contract. Item 1, subsection 4B.

My daughter wraps her arms around my waist and squeezes.

“You’re the best,” she says.

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