Paws out

Pub date October 18, 2011
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap Eats

CHEAP EATS She’s allergic to dogs and cats, and can’t breathe in my apartment. Thus all this subletting. By way of a landing pad, we found a quick, couple-week rental until the 15th of the month. It was pet free, but dusty, maybe moldy, and cold. Our kitchen was a hot-plate on a broken washing machine, a toaster oven on a dresser, and a sink.

The sadness of which, complicated by the frustration of trying to find a breathable place to live in an already suffocating market, plus my team lost at least 30-0, and Hedgehog and I were rejected again for yet another apartment we’d wanted — it reduced both of us to tears at exactly the same time: Sunday.

Which may have contributed to our decision to go get a drink. Staying home in our shithole was not an option. There was no TV there, and the 49ers game was on, and postseason baseball. We would have to battle our depression the old-fashioned way: in a dark and stinky bar.

Wild Side West! One of my all-time new favorite bars ever, on the strength of its fantastic backyard garden that you can almost never sit in because it’s so damn cold out. Normally that’s where I go, but this time there were games on, and — and this is a big and — there was a table full of delicious homemade sausages: chicken ones, bangers, and big long juicy spicy Hungarians. There was cole slaw without mayo, bowls of pepperoncini and cornichons, and some really good pesto pasta salad. And a tip jar.

So we’re sitting inside, at the bar, tipping and eating and drinking and cheering, smooching and hugging during commercials, and just generally putting the “lesbian” back into lesbian bar, when in swaggers this loud, dreadlocked woman with a big, energetic and smelly dog, sets a plate of half-a-sausage on the bar next to me and while she orders her drink, the dog is trying to climb up on the stool next to mine. He actually almost gets her sausage before she manages to divert and calm him.

But already slobber is flying, and the dog is panting, shaking off cooties, and not smelling very entirely good, even to me, when Hedgehog goes, on the other side of me, Sniff.

Uh-oh, I think.

Understand: the 49ers are winning big. They’re wearing their home red, the mere sight of which cheers me to the marrow. The Brewers are up on the Cards — and that’s what we want in the National League. The Brewers. I don’t want us to have to leave this little bubble of sausage-y happiness we have found at the end of our hard cold week of searching, rejection, and 30-0. But am I the kind of person who advocates for herself, let alone her sweetie?

To date, no. But.

But I can hear Hedgehog getting sneezy and itchy. I can see it. Next comes raspy and breathless, and if you’ve ever sat with someone you love while they have an asthma attack, you’ll be with me when I turn to Dreads and say, “Can you please take your dog outside to the patio? My partner’s allergic.”

She looked at me as if I had asked her to — I don’t know — put out a cigarette, or something. “But this dog is friends with the owner,” she said, unable to fathom how a patron of her dog’s buddy’s bar could possible have a problem with it.

I said, “I don’t care.” I said, “My partner’s allergic. We’re here. And I’m asking you to take the dog outside.” I said these things!

“How about the other end of the bar?” she said.

“Fine,” I said, knowing we would miss the end of both games.

Hedgehog had half a drink left. The bartender came over to us as Dreads was relocating her dog, and she asked what happened.

“She’s allergic to dogs,” I said, “so I asked her to take hers outside.”

“Oh,” the bartender said, and went back to work.

Hedgehog sniffed. We left half a drink on the bar, and moved on, cursing and hating and vowing never to go back to my all-time new favorite bar ever. And later that day we found our dream-sublet: a cottage! In Oakland!


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