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Hippos and Nasal Polyps

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I sent the following letter to my father today. He was recently forced to take several days off from work to recover from a minor surgical procedure. He is a man who takes his work very seriously; I'm not so sure 'sick day' exists in his professional vocabulary.
This note is an attempt to lift his spirits. My earliest memory of going to the zoo is associated with an image of my brother and me standing outside the hippo tank with my father bending down to tell us how his favorite animal in the entire animal kingdom was the hippo. I still don't know if he was serious at the time, nevertheless he has since adopted the animal as such for the sake of good story telling.

Dear Father,
I hope that your surgery went without complication. I am sure that your young age and good health will quickly see you through the mending process in no time at all. I am also sure that you, being a physician yourself, are adhering to the doctor's orders to a "T". It is with this in mind that I craft my letter. In order to provide you with a distraction from both post-surgery aches and the boredom associated with prolonged prostration, I would like to share the following story with you.
As you know, two weekends back, I spent some time in Japan. On the second day I met some friends early in the morning to head off into the mountains to enjoy a relaxing bath in hot spring waters. Several hours later, soak concluded, I exited the springs in an utterly relaxed state. So relaxed, I might stress, that I could not even be bothered to carry on much conversation; I was quite content to bask in my stresslessness and let the world wash on by for a while. My two Japanese friends, much more used to the pleasures of hot springs and consequently less susceptible to their powers, took the social excursion reigns and directed us back down into town for an early evening riverside walk and a bit of window shopping. We progressed through the pristine city-scape of bustling urban Japan, at one moment losing each other in crowds of hustling business men and women, and at another point finding ourselves utterly alone in the tranquility of hand-groomed Shinto gardens, which, in any other country, would seem very much out of place at the heart of a metropolis. We walked amongst young stylish hipsters with hair and clothes defying description. We bought warm canned coffee from vending machines. Eventually we paused for a simple dinner of warm sake and raw fish. My numb trance of relaxation giving way to the warm buzz of rice wine; the sun was setting red and there was a salty breeze to remind me of the ocean nearby.
It was then father that I came across them! Two rotund, amphibious mammals, so out of place yet seeming so very much within their habitat!! I froze in my step, glancing again, able to think only of the Sedgwick County zoo and a murky, dark green tank.

I quickly documented the urban beasts before they disappeared beneath the stone paved Japanese streets. The following two photographs represent the highlight of my trip. Had you the opportunity to be traveling with me, I'm confident that you, like me, would have fallen victim to the same irrepressible glee.

The first photograph, snapped in haste in order to document the pair before their resubmergence:

As it turned out, the hippos were so acclimated to their urban environment that my posing with them for a picture did not faze them in the least:
I wish you a speedy recovery. Take care, we'll talk soon.



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