Dawn thinks Ruby has an enflamed rectum, which starts when she makes skid marks across the carpet with her rear-end. We hold her over the sink in the laundry room and run the water over her fur, I can feel her heartbeat in my hands.
Minnie the Boston Retriever is not wired right anymore since her seizures, runs under the neighbor’s car while he’s driving it, narrowly avoids getting killed under our watch. Dawn tells her mom about it on the phone and her mom says honey, if anything happens while I’m gone please don’t tell me about it.
Minnie pants in the sun and rolls onto her back, looks like a bladder, a pig-skin football. Her mouth is so big it’s out of proportion to her face, like a jack-o-lantern where the mouth got cut too wide.
We get the sitter for a special night out in the city, me, my mom, and Dawn. We wind down to the highway, cross the floating bridge and the toll scanner, then connect to another highway, get off by the university, pass the zoo, and venture into Ballard, looking for parking. All-in, it’s 45 minutes. It feels like we live in the suburbs; I’m put-out already.
The restaurant has been popular for a few years now, since it got written up in a national magazine and our foodie friends started talking about it. The store front is so under-stated, it’s unclear how you get in; you have to know to go through an entrance that doesn’t look like it leads anywhere.
It’s 4 o’clock though, and there’s a line already. We stand there with the others, bad air-flow, part of everyone else’s small conversation now. Some are taking pictures with their phones: pictures of the inside of a hallway leading to the restaurant, and me and my mom standing in line.
We wait about 15 minutes and they let us in like we’re getting on a ride at Disney Land. It’s paced so that parties get admitted every five minutes or so. I look at the number of tables on the patio out back and inside, and try to calculate if we’ll get seated or be that last group that gets cut off and told to wait in the corner, have our cell phones handy.
We get a seat on the patio which is great, but the music is so loud we know we’re going to have to say something about it, and that sucks. It’s a 70s soul music theme, with Otis Redding, then James Brown, and so forth. The singers are throwing themselves onto their knees gripping the microphone and screaming, right there by our elbows, with millions of teen fans screaming back. Have a little tenderness. This is a man’s world…
We get our drink orders in, but have to talk to the waitress three times about the music. Turn it down. We can’t hear each other. She gets down on her knees too, to ask with genuine concern, how is the music level now, is it okay?
Mom’s drinking something with Lillet and absinthe. I’m hoping the alcohol will help make it seem normal, and debate getting up to leave on principle, but it took us long enough to park and wait in the goddamned stuffy hallway, and now we’d have to wait somewhere else again.
The other waitress is in charge of water and delivering dishes as they come off the line. She has that Ballard-look of coolness but at the same time, looks like she could be a man. I try to find evidence of that through some detail that was overlooked in the procedure, some part of the other gender they couldn’t rub out of her, but find nothing: just really stark bangs and a waxy make-up job, with a baseball hat that says Hamma Hamma. I happen to know that means Big Stink in some Indian tribal dialect, it’s the name of a town on the peninsula where the salmon run in late summer, and were known to die and rot there on the banks as they spawn.
I’m almost drunk now from the Moscow Mule and feel I can interrupt the waitress to make small talk, but she’s all business with clearing the plates and keeping the ice water going for the guests. Seems the popularity here is their demise.
Minnie sleeps between us in bed, feels like a hot water heater you’d put beneath the blanket in the winter, but it’s 80 degrees in our bedroom now. I write this blog post in my head and it keeps me up with the small sounds of the dog and Dawn, which is better than thinking about work, and counting backwards to fall asleep.
I start to see a puddle on a street corner and the puddle looks like it has a reflection in it, of the sky. But as I get closer, I realize it’s a picture of something leading underground, somewhere else, a hole. I walk over to it in my mind’s eye, slip inside, see through the window of a bedroom where I grew up, a flashlight spinning in the bushes, or maybe the moon, a lighthouse flashing.