We Do Not Eat Hippopotamuses, Camels, or Dinosaurs, Mostly Because We Are Vegetarian (Eleven & Out)

The following is from my Eleven & Out interview series, in which I ask somebody eleven questions. 

I conducted this one with my two-year old son, Johannes, who made it very challenging to complete. I am a little concerned that his imagination is getting bigger than a dinosaur.

What are you doing right now, Johannes?

Dreaming about a camel.

That's what you're doing right now? You're dreaming about a camel?

Yeah. A camel.

How can you be dreaming about a camel if you're awake?

A camel got me. 

A camel got you?

Yeah. I'm going to eat the camel up.

No, you're not going to -


We eat hippopotamuses.

No, we don't eat hippopotamuses, Johannes. We're vegetarian.

We eat noodles, Daddy. And apples and peas and rice! And quinoa!

You are correct on all counts. Those are things that we eat.

What are your favourite animals?

I like camels and hippopotamuses. 


I like camels and hippopotamuses. Hippototamus and camel.

What are two - 


Apples and peas and noodles and rice.

Okay. We'll just pretend the question was about food.

And quinoa. And rice. And quinoa.

Good choices.

What is two plus two?

One, two.

I know that two comes after one, but what I'm asking you is what two plus two is. 

Plus two, and camel. We eat camels. We eat camels, Daddy. We eat camels.

Two plus two does not equal "we eat camels."

We eat camels.

No, we do not eat camels! We are vegetarian!

We eat camels.

No. We do not eat camels.

We eat camels.

We do not eat camels.

We eat mans.

We eat mans? Like people?


No. We don't. If we ate people, we would be cannibals. We are not cannibals.

We eat camels.

No, not camels. Cannibals.


I'm the one asking the questions, okay?

I'm a dinosaur.

You're not a camel. You're not a dinosaur.

I'm a dinosaur.

You're not a dinosaur. You're a little boy. If somebody were to someday discover a transcript, or an archive of this, and they heard you saying that you're a dinosaur, then they might get the mistaken idea that dinosaurs talk. Which they don't. Dinosaurs are not currently in existence.

Dinosaurs talk. 

No, dinosaurs don't talk.

Dinosaurs talk.

No, dinosaurs don't talk. 

Dinosaurs talk! Don't say "no!" We say "thank you." 

Why should I say "thank you?"

Because you don't say "no."

So instead of saying "no," you want me to say "thank you?"


Thank you.

What is one of your favourite activities to do these days?

Ride a camel.

You've never ridden a camel! You didn't even want to ride a pony two weeks ago!

I wanna ride a camel. I wanna ride a camel.

Maybe someday. But I don't want you to eat it, which is something I'm starting to get concerned about.
Promise me that if you ride a camel someday, you won't try eating it.

I'm not eating it! Ride a camel!

You just want to ride the camel?

Yeah. Not eat a camel.

I just don't want you to try eating the camel. So say - 


Eat apples and peas and noodles and quinoa.

That's right.

We ride camels and hippopotamuses.

Yes. We ride hippopotamuses and - 

- and camels.

We would like to ride camels. Neither of us has actually ridden a camel. So technically we can't say that we like to ride camels when we haven't. 

We ride the camels. We don't eat them.

That is correct. We ride the camels. We don't eat them.

What is your favourite color?

A camel.

A camel is not a color.

A camel is a color.

A camel is not a color.

A cheetah is a color.

A cheetah is not a colour either.

Umm, I like pink.

You like pink?

And green too.

You like pink and green?


Those are your favourite colors?


Okay. We're getting somewhere. What are your sister's favourite colors?

Pink and green. And I like pink and green and blue.

Where is one of your favourite places to go?

Camel rides.

Camel rides?


Where do you go to have camel rides?

Right at our house. We ride in our house.

We don't have a camel in our house.

We have a camel in our house.

No, we actually don't have a camel in our house.

Mama has a camel.

No, Mama does not have a camel.

Sissie has a camel.

No, Magdelana does not have a camel either.

I have a camel.

No, you do not have a camel! 

I'm a dinosaur!

No, you are not a dinosaur. You are a human being.

I'm a dinosaur.

You're not a dinosaur. You're a human being.  Dinosaurs don't talk.

Dinosaurs talk on the phone.

No! Dinosaurs do not talk on the phone. Dinosaurs existed long before - 


Say 'thank you' Daddy.

Why are telling me to say 'thank you?'

Don't say 'no.' Say 'thank you' Daddy. 

Okay, part of being a good Dad is saying "no" when I have to say "no."


Do you like it when I call you "Tim Burton?"


Why not?

Don't call me Tim Burton. 

What is your favourite kind of weather?

I like cheetahs and camels.

That would be a good answer for another question.

I like white cheetahs.

You like white cheetahs? I've never seen a white cheetah. I don't know that white cheetahs exist. Cheetahs are not white. 

They're yellow.

Yeah, that is correct. Umm, let's see…what is some of your favourite music to listen to?

Bob Dylan and Joseph Arthur.

Those are pretty good choices.

What do you enjoying playing with Magdelana?


With LEGO blocks?

Yeah. With the yellow Legos.

What is Mama's name?

Joseph Arthur.

Her name is not Joseph Arthur. What is her name?


Dopa? Her name is not Dopa. Her name is Becca. I call her Countess Becca.

Countess Becca.

I call her Countess Becca, but you call her Mama.

I see a dinosaur leg.

You see a dinosaur leg? 

We eat dinosaur legs.

No! We do not eat dinosaur legs! We are vegetarian!

We eat dinosaur legs. We eat the dinosaur leg.

No. We do not eat dinosaur legs. We do not eat any part of a dinosaur.

We eat dinosaur legs.

No, we don't. For one thing, IF there were any dinosaurs around, they would likely be on the endangered species list, in which case, we would be in hot water and owe a lot of money if we ate dinosaur, which we also would not do because we're vegetarian. Okay? Now, how much money do you make, Johannes?

A cheetah.

A cheetah?


We actually measure how much you make with money, not cheetahs.

A money cheetah.

That doesn't make sense. 

Are there any films that you like to watch?

I like Monster Inc.

You haven't even seen the whole thing! You've seen about fifteen minutes of it!

There's a robber. He's a robber.

Okay. We're done. You are are a character.

I'm Johannes. My name is Johannes.

March 2012 / photo: Countess Becca


Link Leave a comment if you feel like it...and thanks for stopping by. Have a magical and delightful day!"


  1. This is hilarious! Thank you, Johannes, for providing Uncle Jonny and I with a good laugh this evening. We miss you (and your father, your mother, and your sissy) terribly. We cannot wait to see you at 9:45pm when we arrive in Portland in 2 weeks. I know you will be awake waiting for us because you love us very much. And we love YOU very much!

  2. Thank you Joseph and Johannes for one of the best conversations I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I was laughing so hard it brought me to tears. So excited to hear more of your stories about dinosaurs and camels. Miss you all so much! Lots of love to washougal from walla walla! Thank you so much a wonderful ending to a completely crazy and stressful day!!

  3. I laughed because it sounds so much like conversations that have gone on at our house in the past! Also, sometimes, in the present. Thank you for the fine transcription as well as delightful accompanying photographs.

    Wendy M.

  4. Wow! I "heard" every word, with inflections and body language and laughter and.....like I was there! Both Johannes and his Daddy. Delightful, as you both are. Thank you SO much. Hugs! xoxo

  5. Yes, he is Johannes and there is a magical quality about dinosaurs, hippos, and emperors and sons. Thanks. Enjoyed this delightful dialogue of magical reality. Made me think of the picture of the Emperor and his sword discussing the Round Table sitting on an old stump near Cape Meares with a cousin underling giving his hurrahs. There must be a transporting transformative experience about Emperors sitting on old stumps dreaming of distant realms. Sleep and dream well Emperor. The knight is on the prowl where big ideas come out of the dark into the light sitting on old stumps or laying beside a son living on the edge of reality, the reality of love and concurrent imagination, preparing to cross into dreamland. May dreams of such delight continue all your days.


Love to hear from you. Thanks for your comments!