|IT'S EASY TO LOOK BACK in time and think, "What if?" What if Nazi Germany had invented the atomic bomb? What if Columbus had possessed the wheel? What if the pyramids didnt suck? One discovers, however, that these questions become meaningless in the face of a much more profound "What if?" What if the now-legendary 1980s board game Hungry Hungry Hippos had been invented four millennia earlier?
Nile Delta, circa 2000 B.C
Egyptians develop Hungry Hungry Hippos as a ritualistic homage to the gods of the Nile. Centuries later, a solid gold version of the game is found in the tomb of King Tutankhamun. Mysteriously, the four archeologists who discovered and then played the boy-kings game contracted malaria after being bitten by hippos.
Classical Athens, fourth century B.C.
Socrates replaces his metaphor of the cave with the metaphor of the Very Hungry Hippo, which he claims demonstrates the ideal form of "Hippo-ness." The youth remain uncorrupted, Socrates is not executed and Platonic philosophy is made infinitely more mind-blowing to stoned philosophy majors in the twentieth century.
Nazareth, the Year Zero
The baby Jesus is presented with the gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Hungry Hungry Hippos. While captivated by the game at first, he soon tires of it, realizing that because he is divine, he will always get all the marbles. Wise beyond his years, the young Jesus realizes that Myrrh is even less fun, but is transfixed by his gold. As a young man, he parlays the loot into a chain of carpentry superstores.
Imperial Rome, 150 A.D.
Hungry Hungry Hippos reaches what historians consider its historical high point. The game is played with live hippos in place of the usual plastic replicas and Christians in lieu of marbles.
China, Early Quinn dynasty
A minor squabble between Emperor Quinn and his top general begins over what should be done when the Emperors hippo jams. The conflict spreads into a full-blown civil war as, tragically, the Hippos rule book has not been translated into Chinese.
Viking warriors stay at home, preferring the simple joys of marble-gobbling to the real-life thrills of looting and pillaging. Iceland is not discovered until 1968.
Enamored with the mythology of the game, medieval knights go into battle on the backs of garishly painted hippopotami. History turns out the same, but at a much slower, more lumbering, pace.
Columbus, a lifelong player of Hungry Hungry Hippos, discovers the New World. Upon discovering that it has gold, slaves and lumber, but no marbles, he goes down in history as a total fucking loser.
A young Karl Marx avariciously leverages his Hippos might to acquire increased marble capital. Remembering this event years later, he will realize the shortcomings of Communism and devote his time to managing a mildly successful waffle joint.
Ernest Hemingway writes "The Sun Also Rises," a novel that brilliantly contrasts the "lost generations" search for meaning in a transient world with the savage and immediate brutality of Hungry Hungry Hippos, the national sport of Spain.
Washington DC, 1973
A nation is shocked when secret tapes are released which reveal the president saying, "Fuck. How come Spiro always gets red. Yellow Hippo cant gobble for shit."