happy birthday to the real johnny.

I know I joke a lot about Johnny Depp.

And I write about Johnny Unitas a lot.

And Johnny Appleseed. And Johnny Cash.

But the fact is that there is only one Johnny. My Johnny, Mr Brilliant, the father of our two amazing girls.

And today is his birthday. (And Emma’s half-birthday!)

Have I mentioned how lucky I am to be growing old with this man?

I’ve written about him on 37days a few times:

happy birthday, johnny (2011)

happy birthday, johnny (2010)

mr brilliant is, above all, mr daddy

Those are just a few of the stories about him.

In 2010, I posted 54 reasons I love him. I’ve added five more to bring him up to 59:

1. He catches me when I’m falling.

2. He makes me laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh some more.

3. He makes good babies.

4. He is the best daddy in the universe.

5. He cooks.

6. He is curious. Insatiably so.

7. He isn’t content to ask Chef Google for a gingerbread house recipe. No, he calls the White House Chef and actually gets him on the phone.

8. He warms up the car when it’s cold.

9. He is the smartest person I know. Brilliant, even.

10. He runs after the ice cream truck for Tess.

11. He smells fantastic, a magical combination of Fahrenheit and old books.

12. He makes fun of himself.

13. He tapes lit candles to his forehead to make the kids laugh.

14. He goes out in snowstorms to help people who get stuck or who need help shoveling.

15. He runs toward people who need help when other people run away.

16. He thinks I’m beautiful.

17. He sends me flowers wherever I travel.

18. He is okay with the whole Johnny Depp tiny wee obsession.

19. He would be able to keep us alive on a deserted island.

20. He reads the sports pages and physics texts.

21. He takes me to the airport at 5am without complaining.

22. He can’t watch TV shows in which kids get hurt.

23. He holds down the fort.

24. He dresses up like a pirate and leads kids on treasure hunts during birthday parties.

25. He knows.

26. And he loves me anyway.

27. He is slightly crazy. In the best ways possible.

28. He’s cute. And the man sent me leaves to London.

29. He remembers everything he ever reads and can’t remember to pick up cat food at the store. I find this very endearing most of the time.

30. He is loyal to those he loves.

31. He endures my last-minute packing.

32. He writes a blog that makes my head explode.

33. He would do anything for me, Emma, and Tess. And does.

34. He vacuums.

35. He doesn’t suffer fools.

36. He makes lemonade stands and bookshelves for the kids.

37. He is my protector.

38. He bought me the 1930s wedding ring I wanted from Old Man Silverman. Even before he asked me to marry him.

39. He makes me really laugh with his imitations of Ted Knight as Ted Baxter and Bill Clinton as Bill Clinton.

40. He loves Jimmy Rockford and Spongebob.

41. He does science experiments with Emma and Tess and hardly ever causes explosions.

42. He cries when he laughs hard.

43. He and Emma memorized the “Who’s on First” routine when she was little.

44. He wears black jeans, white crisp shirts, and black cowboy boots.

45. He loves kid art.

46. He calls Billy Collins and William Gass and asks if they’ll talk to me.

47. He knows how electricity works.

48. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.

49. He takes Tess to Daisy Scouts and to the Li-bary.

50. He sings the kids to sleep.

51. He reads five books at a time.

52. He won’t sell his red books.

53. He puts candles in everything.

54. He is my best friend.

55. He endures my endless parade of rescue pets.

56. He has the biggest heart I’ve ever seen.

57. He paints my walls, baby. He paints my walls.

58. He is going to be adorable at 80.

59. He is the most complex human I know.

Happy birthday, my Johnny. I can’t imagine life without you, and I hope I never have to.


  1. Now that is a true “man”. Happy birthday to your wonderful husband!

  2. What an amazing guy and what a beautiful tribute!! Happy Birthday to Mr. Brilliant!!

  3. I think it would be nice to print this and have Tess do one of her amazing drawings and laminate it for him as a bookmark! What an awesome whole you two make – you enrich lives all over the world <3

  4. As is the story with you, (a friend I’ve never met) and I, it was my husband’s birthday this weekend, as well…another coincidence? I think not. Celebrating the life of the father of the children that make our worlds go round is no small thing. Happy Birthday to your John, and my David. And cheers to the people that are fortunate enough to call them Daddy. Families. Rock.

  5. What a beautiful tribute to a man whose big heart has touched me, though we’ve never met. (Way more so, I’ll add, than Johnny Depp’s ever has.) Happy birthday to your Johnny!

  6. Patti,
    He really needs to be cloned and shared with others! No fair there’s only one! What an amazing human being he is, what an amazing couple you are! You both make this world a better place. Paste a candle on his forehead and wish him a most wonderful birthday! Susan

  7. Dear Patti
    I’m reading your life changing book “life is a verb”
    and it’s the first time I’m visiting your site
    coming just in time to congratulate Johnny for his birth day.
    Is it really today?, happy birthday dear Johnny .
    Arie Arieli (Givataim Israel )

  8. I love this list, and if you don’t mind, Patti, I’m gonna steal the idea for when my husband turns 67 next month…

  9. Happy birthday you big strong funny loving tireless brilliant bookman John Ptak!