Monday, April 26, 2010

When Harry Met Linda

All is not well in the penguin exhibit at the San Francisco Zoo. Pepper, a Megellanic penguin who was dumped last year by his long term same-sex partner Harry for a widowed female named Linda, has not found love again this breeding season. He has grown depressed, avoiding contact with other penguins as much as possible so as not to be confronted with Harry and Linda's blissful relationship.

After Linda stole Harry from Pepper, the two males engaged in a brawl so fierce that their keepers had to separate them for months. They still glare at each other aggressively when they meet and have not evolved into the elusive ideal of "just friends." Harry and Linda are incubating an egg, which must particularly rankle because Harry and Pepper once raised a chick named Chuck Norris together. They were one of the most devoted couples at the zoo until Linda's partner died and she and Harry began spending more time together.

Everyone knows how these things happen -- long ago, Elizabeth Taylor's husband, Mike Todd, died and she and his best friend Eddie Fisher, the singer, consoled each other so successfully that Eddie soon left his wife Debbie Reynolds and married Elizabeth. (The marriage failed because she hated his singing in the shower, and she is now about to marry her 9th or 10th husband.) I don't know how many mates Linda the Penguin has had, but I'm betting Harry won't be her last. He'll come crawling home to Pepper, begging forgiveness for his terrible mistake, but it will be too late. Even if he goes to cheater's rehab.

There will be those who tout this as proof that Harry wasn't really gay after all, just experimenting. But I don't think it's relevant. Breakups are painful for everyone, for any reason, whether ones love is a male, a female or a Boston Fern. So I hope that Pepper finds the penguin of his dreams next mating season and finally gets to live happily ever after. Because we all deserve that.


The Good Cook said...

I loved this story when it first came out - now I'm just so sorry for Pepper. And Harry? Shame on you, what would Chuck Norris think?

ps. I'm betting Linda is a hussy.

TechnoBabe said...

We all deserve that. This was a sad story. Of course in real life there are breakups and reunions and some people are left out. I guess it is that way in the penguin world too. Linda must have a certain allure.

Anonymous said...

Dear old Liz. Can you imagine any woman taking up with Eddie Fisher? Mike Todd I could understand, and definitely Richard Burton, but Fisher? Now, Carrie Fisher is kind of appealing (as looney as she is and she admits it), but I think the Debbie genes must prevail with her.
At the end of the day, though, 'breakin' up is hard to do'. I know that.

TaraDharma said...

Penguin sexual orientation is a continuum, so I'm not surprised that these fellas broke up. I have a couple of friends who broke up (both guys) and in process they had a major physical brawl that brought the police to their front door. Poor boys. Love hurts.

mischief said...

Well said. Poor Pepper... I hope he finds his bliss soon. And that Boston Fern you were talking about too. I have a Benjamina tree that may have died of loneliness. I wish I'd introduced him to someone cute.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Good Cook,

Maybe she just had that certain something Harry was missing.


Like tattoos with swastikas?


You do, don't you? (As do I.) As for Liz, c'mon - if you marry a singer, it's kind of stupid to then object to his singing.


Love hurts. Or losing it does. Orientation changes nothing about love - it's just details.


There is nothing worse than a solitary weeping fig - that's why they weep, you know. I have one too, but he is very close friends (wink wink) with a large taro plant. I can actually feel them watching when I tend the other.

secret agent woman said...

Oh, this is so depressing. Poor Pepper.

Warty Mammal said...

Poor Pepper. May he find peace sooner rather than later. Maybe something in the inflatable department.

nick said...

I had no idea penguins could get so upset about losing their loved ones. Poor old Pepper. I hope as you suggest that Harry comes crawling back to Pepper with his flippers between his legs.

the walking man said...

Love so many ways.

Molly said...

Poor pepper! Nobody likes rejection....

I didn't even know that Chuck Norris' parents were penguins---imagine that!

Cecilieaux said...

Cute. You guys get all the interesting news. Although ... aren't Harry and Linda fighting for the sanctity of marriage under the Constitution?

Just yankin' your chain ...

heartinsanfrancisco said...


He's taking it really hard. I just hope he's not suicidal.


That was cold. And you spelled "piece" wrong.


I feel for Chuck Norris. It's always worst for the children.


Uh huh. Uh huh. (Yeah, yeah, yeah.)


I didn't either. You learn something every day.


I'm guessing that Harry and Pepper got married during that very short window before the righteous fire & brimstone brigade made it illegal again.

And I kind of hate Linda.

mischief said...

Susan, I read a lovely article today and thought of you and Pepper...

Looks like the Canadian birds are mixing it up too!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


What an interesting story! Maybe the swans are colorblind and can't see that their beaks are different colored - the article says they look alike otherwise. They are, however, a male and female, unlike our penguin buddies. (Of course, this is San Francisco.)

Meggie said...

Oh so sad. Everyone ~including animals other than humans, plus birds and fish~ deserves to have happiness and love in life.
I do say to Liz...don't marry again, it will all end in tears.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You would think she'd know that by now, but I'm guessing that the tears were rarely hers.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...


Loved the whole story, and still it made me sad.
...although, I did giggle at the beginning at the idea of two male partnered penguins in SF. The zoo isn't near the Castro district; is it? ;P

I wish real love for all, as well, regardless of *everything*. Wouldn't it be loverly?

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Jocelyn said...

I just read your post about The Mistresses getting a tv show...and now this...and it's all so unjust. How come the good penguins never win?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Leo Durocher said it best: "Nice penguins finish last."