Penn Jillette writes about love, heart health, and his new pooch.
It’s February. It’s the month of cheesy valentines and important heart health. Withings wants me to write my blog about love. “And when I say I’m in love, you best believe I’m in love, L.U.V.!” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipJOa1UG764 – go ahead, click it, you can thank me later – Am I tall? Well, you’ve got to look up. You hear I’m bad? Well, I’m good bad, but I’m not evil – next time you see me, give me a great big kiss.)
I’m a lucky guy. I know love both L.O.V.E and L.U.V. Lots. It’s SOP for anyone in comedy to talk (brag) about how dysfunctional her/his family was/is. I can’t do that. My Mom, Dad, and Sister treated me perfectly and I don’t believe there was one second that I doubted their love, not even during my longhaired teenaged angst years (which lasted until I was fifty-nine years old). Moms are supposed to be unconditional love and dads are supposed to be conditional love. My dad never took that direction. He loved me true like ice, like fire and taught me to cry whenever a made-for-TV-movie tugged by the numbers on any loving heartstring.
I’m lucky enough to have many friends I’d take a bullet for (David Blaine is not included on that list). I’ve been in love with more than my fair share of women. As Martin Mull sang, “I remember all their names and I don’t make fun of them” – even though neither of those things are literally true for me . . . let’s take the high road. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSin_k-oHrs – go ahead listen, it’s Lo-Fi, but dig it.)
People thought I was stupid holding out to get married until I found the perfect partner to raise a family with, but I held out until I was way too old and then my wife found me. I best believe I know love. She is perfect.
I have two children, so I’ve discovered that insane parental love, the love you can’t choose. Pure animal love. Love for my children is pre-intellect feeling times googolplex. I don’t have to think about loving Mox and Z. There’s nothing they could do to lose my love. It’s pure animal, it’s lizard (yes, crocodiles tend their hatchlings). My mom and dad told me that I would never understand how much they loved me until I had my own children. Mom and dad were right.
This animal love for my children has brought me the challenge of trying to understand the love of animals. My children wanted a dog.
I had pets as a child. I had a rabbit, cats, turtles and fish. I was fond of them. I never had a dog. My mom said that if a dog came into our house, she would leave. My mom didn’t bluff and my mom didn’t like dogs. I was raised to not like dogs. I’ve never liked dogs. They are loud, scary, smelly, unpleasant, and they can’t read.
But, my children wanted a dog really badly. The rest of the Jillette family worked on me for years and this year we got a poodle dog puppy. The poodle dog’s name is Potato Fuckhead Jillette (the family let me name him). I made a few rules for our poodle dog.
- Has to be a poodle dog. (The only dog I’ve ever found tolerable was a well-behaved standard poodle dog.)
- Has to be referred to at all times as a “poodle dog.” Never “dog,” never “poodle,” only “poodle dog” out of respect for Frank Zappa. (“Cheepniss” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4yuzbeOSl4)
- Not allowed in my office or in our bedroom.
- I won’t do anything to take care of the poodle dog; no feeding, no cleaning up.
- Has to have a stupid very effeminate haircut for at least some of its life. Doesn’t have to be dyed pink at some point, but that would be a plus.
- Has to have a really expensive Zsa Zsa Garbor-type bling collar. I want a Hollywood poodle dog.
This New Year (our atheist family celebrates the holiday on the New Year), we added a six week old black and white parti-poodle-dog to the Jillette family. “Parti” means mixed black and white which means he can’t compete in dog shows – feature, not a bug.
Most of the applicable rules have been followed so far, except that when I come home after the show I do take Potato out to the backyard to “go to the bathroom” as my children say. Then I chase him around to try to get him back into the house. I can’t find a way to talk to the dog. I don’t have a “pet voice” — I barely have “an other guy voice” to tell stories with. I just kind of say in a quiet, normal voice, “C’mon poodle dog, please go inside now. Please.” And I chase him around. You might want to get a light-vision drone in my backyard – you’d lose about six pounds laughing your ass off.
I would describe my relationship with Potato as cordial. I try to play with him a little and he nips my toes and my children claim that’s affection and not hunting. Many people have said that I will be the one who loves him the most, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’ll keep you posted.
Just 3 years ago, I was a really sick fat guy with hair down to the middle of my back and no dog. Now, I’m a healthy skinny guy with short hair and a poodle dog.
Withings helped me get skinny. The hair and the poodle dog, they had nothing to do with it. But, you know, even in months other than February it’s all about the heart, and that’s all about love, symbolically and literally. My blood pressure (with two very low dose meds) stays below 150. I check it every day with my Withings cuff. The docs say the BP will keep getting better as I heal from years of bad diet, and they say that I’ll be off the meds at some point soon.
But, you know, without the real love in my life, I wouldn’t have bothered with the diet change and the Withings. I did it for love. For love of my family, for love of life, and for love of . . . nope, the poodle dog still had nothing to do with it.