If You Want A Friend

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This is Rob Long with Martini Shot on KCRW.

There---s an old saying in politics:-- if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.-- Well, it---s often been said that Hollywood and Washington are similar, and that politics is just show business for ugly people,-- so in 1994, when I wanted a friend in Hollywood, I got a dog.

My friends Jen and Dave rescued a pregnant dog --- she was gorgeous and had one blue eye --- and the dog gave birth to nine puppies, and I got the one that was smart and brown and had a red nose.-- He looked like a cigar, so I called him Cohiba.-- And he was proud and poised and liked to sit in a Sphinx-like pose, with one paw tucked under.

One day we were zig-zagging our way home --- he was maybe 9 months old --- and my neighbors Harry and Judith drove by, stopped the car, and fell in love with him.-- Were there any other puppies, they wanted to know.

Just one, I said.-- And so Cohiba---s littermate --- they named him Victor --- moved in two doors down.--

Now,-- when you walk a dog, or let puppies play together, you get to know someone pretty well.-- Twice a day Harry or Judith or sometimes both of them and I would get together and let the dogs go wild on the grass, and we---d talk --- about people and politics and events and ourselves.-- If you want a friend in Hollywood, get a dog.

My friend Tim had a black Lab who loved the beach, and so one day he called me up and we drove up to El Matador --- back when you could---skirt---the leash laws --- and let our dogs run on the sand and chase birds and dive after tennis balls, get wet and muddy and totally exhausted.-- And when you drive up to Malibu with someone and watch two dogs run free, you get to know someone pretty well.--

So that---s Jen and Dave and Harry and Judith and Tim and his family---.all from one dog.-- Well, you know what they say about wanting a friend.

Here---s what we all say about dogs -- "Oh!-- They give us unconditional love!-- They just love us for us! But is that true?-- In the first place, what would it even mean to a dog to have "conditions" on love?-- I mean, what would those conditions even be?-- No, I think what we're trying to say is, we give THEM unconditional love, or come awfully close to it.-- Closer than we do with the people in our lives -- the ones we're really supposed to love without condition or strings or projection or expectation -- and for a brief moment we know what it's like to love something freely and then it's gone and we're stuck with our complicated, tied-up selves and wishing that we could see for just one last time the way that dog looked at us when we were at the beach, with a tennis ball in our hand.

But of course what we really should be remembering is the way we looked at the dog.

Cohiba died three weeks ago today.-- The friends I made through him and because of him have helped me enormously and this can be a lonely place to live and a very lonely business, but it---s like he provided his own first aid kit.-- When he left me, he left me heartbroken.-- But grateful.-- Because he left me lonely.-- But not alone.

That---s it for this week.-- Apologies for getting---.you know.-- Next week, back to business.-- For KCRW, this is Rob Long with Martini Shot.

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Host:
Rob Long