"Do you know what those are called?”

‘A bloat of hippos’ was a witty and whimsical linguistic contrast to the almost Orwellian ‘nest of vipers’ and ‘murder of crows’ that I had always attributed to poetic license.

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“Do you know what those are called?” the safari guide at Botswana’s Chobe Game Lodge queried while I watched a large group of hippos unabashedly bathing in the waters of the Zambezi River. “A bloat of hippos!” he answered rhetorically with the grin of a man who knew this tidbit of information would delight his guests.

My smile matched his as I laughed at how apropos the word seemed at describing this mass of bulky beasts. ‘A bloat of hippos’ was a witty and whimsical linguistic contrast to the almost Orwellian ‘nest of vipers’ and ‘murder of crows’ that I had always attributed to poetic license. But along came ‘a tower of giraffes’, ‘a confusion of wildebeests’ and, reposed contentedly under the blazing sub-Saharan sun, ‘a bask of crocodiles’.

These collective nouns begged for further wordplay. The opportunity arose when we stopped to observe ‘a business of mongoose’. As I watched their valiant amorous activities, the temptation was ineluctable. “Look, they’re doing the business!” I exclaimed to my travel companions, a couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. Deference be damned. Fits of puerile laughter, comparable only to schoolchildren discussing flatulence, ensued.

“Do you know what those are called?” the safari guide at Botswana’s Chobe Game Lodge queried while I watched a large group of hippos unabashedly bathing in the waters of the Zambezi River. “A bloat of hippos!” he answered rhetorically with the grin of a man who knew this tidbit of information would delight his guests.

My smile matched his as I laughed at how apropos the word seemed at describing this mass of bulky beasts. ‘A bloat of hippos’ was a witty and whimsical linguistic contrast to the almost Orwellian ‘nest of vipers’ and ‘murder of crows’ that I had always attributed to poetic license. But along came ‘a tower of giraffes’, ‘a confusion of wildebeests’ and, reposed contentedly under the blazing sub-Saharan sun, ‘a bask of crocodiles’.

These collective nouns begged for further wordplay. The opportunity arose when we stopped to observe ‘a business of mongoose’. As I watched their valiant amorous activities, the temptation was ineluctable. “Look, they’re doing the business!” I exclaimed to my travel companions, a couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. Deference be damned. Fits of puerile laughter, comparable only to schoolchildren discussing flatulence, ensued.

“Do you know what those are called?” the safari guide at Botswana’s Chobe Game Lodge queried while I watched a large group of hippos unabashedly bathing in the waters of the Zambezi River. “A bloat of hippos!” he answered rhetorically with the grin of a man who knew this tidbit of information would delight his guests.

My smile matched his as I laughed at how apropos the word seemed at describing this mass of bulky beasts. ‘A bloat of hippos’ was a witty and whimsical linguistic contrast to the almost Orwellian ‘nest of vipers’ and ‘murder of crows’ that I had always attributed to poetic license. But along came ‘a tower of giraffes’, ‘a confusion of wildebeests’ and, reposed contentedly under the blazing sub-Saharan sun, ‘a bask of crocodiles’.

These collective nouns begged for further wordplay. The opportunity arose when we stopped to observe ‘a business of mongoose’. As I watched their valiant amorous activities, the temptation was ineluctable. “Look, they’re doing the business!” I exclaimed to my travel companions, a couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. Deference be damned. Fits of puerile laughter, comparable only to schoolchildren discussing flatulence, ensued.

“Do you know what those are called?” the safari guide at Botswana’s Chobe Game Lodge queried while I watched a large group of hippos unabashedly bathing in the waters of the Zambezi River. “A bloat of hippos!” he answered rhetorically with the grin of a man who knew this tidbit of information would delight his guests.

My smile matched his as I laughed at how apropos the word seemed at describing this mass of bulky beasts. ‘A bloat of hippos’ was a witty and whimsical linguistic contrast to the almost Orwellian ‘nest of vipers’ and ‘murder of crows’ that I had always attributed to poetic license. But along came ‘a tower of giraffes’, ‘a confusion of wildebeests’ and, reposed contentedly under the blazing sub-Saharan sun, ‘a bask of crocodiles’.

These collective nouns begged for further wordplay. The opportunity arose when we stopped to observe ‘a business of mongoose’. As I watched their valiant amorous activities, the temptation was ineluctable. “Look, they’re doing the business!” I exclaimed to my travel companions, a couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. Deference be damned. Fits of puerile laughter, comparable only to schoolchildren discussing flatulence, ensued.

“Do you know what those are called?” the safari guide at Botswana’s Chobe Game Lodge queried while I watched a large group of hippos unabashedly bathing in the waters of the Zambezi River. “A bloat of hippos!” he answered rhetorically with the grin of a man who knew this tidbit of information would delight his guests.

My smile matched his as I laughed at how apropos the word seemed at describing this mass of bulky beasts. ‘A bloat of hippos’ was a witty and whimsical linguistic contrast to the almost Orwellian ‘nest of vipers’ and ‘murder of crows’ that I had always attributed to poetic license. But along came ‘a tower of giraffes’, ‘a confusion of wildebeests’ and, reposed contentedly under the blazing sub-Saharan sun, ‘a bask of crocodiles’.

These collective nouns begged for further wordplay. The opportunity arose when we stopped to observe ‘a business of mongoose’. As I watched their valiant amorous activities, the temptation was ineluctable. “Look, they’re doing the business!” I exclaimed to my travel companions, a couple celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. Deference be damned. Fits of puerile laughter, comparable only to schoolchildren discussing flatulence, ensued.

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