Monday, April 26, 2010
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.