Hippo love, and Unsolicited Advice on How to Find a Mate

A ’60s radical, second in his class at Dartmouth, and writer for a subversive magazine called Fallout, he falls hopelessly in love with the Star-Spangled and athletic Southern girl from Hunnicut who’s moved into his San Francisco apartment building. “I’ve become an animal,” he tells his friend Andy. “I’ve developed senses no man has ever used before. I can smell the shampoo in her hair three city blocks away. I can have my radio turned up full blast and still hear her taking off her stockings!”

When Andy remains skeptical of the unlikely couple’s compatibility, Norman demands, “Did you ever hear of physical attraction? Pure, unadulterated physical attraction?” Andy replies with a sage definition: “It’s when one hippopotamus likes another hippopotamus with no questions asked.” To which Norman rejoins, “Exactly. Now it’s five-thirty and my hippopotamus will be getting off her bus. . . . Leave me alone.”

I can’t help but wonder what would happen to Norman Cornell and the un-requiting object of his affection, Sophie Rauschmeyer, were the play to undergo a makeover today. Would it end differently than Norman gradually coming to his senses towards the conclusion and realizing, after multiple conversations and encounters, that his intellectual inclinations and incendiary worldview probably aren’t the best fit for someone whose reading material consists of Sports Illustrated and whose goal in life is to marry a United States Marine? According to stereotype, today’s play might conclude with Norman and Sophie hooking up, or moving in together before Sophie realizes Fallout isn’t exactly the Reader’s Digest.

Although recent findings from the Pew Research Center confirm that so-called Millennials marry in far smaller numbers than their Generation X or Baby Boomer counterparts, a large majority of them-69 percent-still want to marry.