b Papa Dog's Blog: Not Exactly a Powerhouse of Productivity on Sunday, Either

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Not Exactly a Powerhouse of Productivity on Sunday, Either

I don’t know why exactly, but sometime in the last year Oakland City Magazine started showing up in our mailbox every month whether we wanted it or not. I would have to say “not” is the correct answer, but show up it does, and there it lingers on the kitchen table, modestly presenting itself for consideration from anyone casting about for slick and pointless toilet reading. An article in the current issue reminded me of a new place in Rockridge we’d been meaning to check our, the Bittersweet Café. Mama Dog spotted it first, on a College Avenue stroll. It’s a café that specialises in all things chocolate. “Papa Dog would like this,” she thought, and how well she knows her fellow. It’s probably a sign of how busy we’ve been that it’s taken us this long to get around to it, but today we finally made it the centerpiece of an afternoon family outing (sans Doggy Dog, who is alas unwelcome in many North American cafés).

Our initial impression was grave disappointment, mostly on account of the “closed” sign hanging on the door. This farkuckt Oakland Magazine had claimed the place was open until 6 p.m. on Sundays, and although we should have assumed that what was too good to be true was just good enough to be false, we let our enthusiasm subdue our caution. Fortunately, though, Mama Dog persisted. She went inside and spoke with a chap who was probably one of the owners. She told him of the error in the magazine. “That’s not the only thing they got wrong,” he said caustically. All right, it’s us against the magazine. Nothing like a common enemy to bond a small businessman and his prospective patron. He let us come in and order even though they were closed. Way to win business, dude.

I confess I went a little overboard in my first Bittersweet purchase. I ordered a piece of cinnamon chocolate cake to go, but when I found out that we were to be permitted to sit and eat, I got one of their fancy hot chocolates as well. Mama Dog got some sort of iced chocolate coffee thing. The cake was marvellous, and my first sip of the hot chocolate – a concoction of three different kinds of dark chocolate called “The European” – was close to revelatory. Moments later, though, I realised my error. If you’re going to have a rich slab of chocolate cake, the last beverage you want to wash it down with is more chocolate. I should have gotten some milk or something. I had to get some water just to dilute the excess of chocolaty goodness. The last few bits of cake were actually a bit of a chore. Next time I’ll know better.

Baby Dog proved quite a conversation piece during our visit. She likes to go out and meet people, our girl, and she flirted shamelessly with anyone who made eye contact. We got asked twice about her maple leaf booties. “Is she Canadian?” was the inquiry both times. “Yes she is,” was twice the answer, “but she was born at Alta Bates.” Mama Dog is for some reason urging me to go back to this place with Baby Dog but not Mama, just to see what a positive chick magnet a cute baby is for an apparently single man. I suggested I might dress in black and talk wistfully about how hard it’s been caring for the baby by myself since the accident.

When we were done chocolating, we went to Diesel – just a door or two away – to browse. I looked again for anything by Robertson Davies, this time soliciting the help of staff. The young lady asked if I had looked in the Mystery section and I struggled mightily not to roll my eyes. Mama Dog sat down and read while I entertained Baby Dog by strolling her around the store. As I went around, I kept spotting things I thought Mama Dog would like. She knows her fellow and I know my gal; I was right three times out of three. The East Bay photo history, the scathing dissection of business-speak, and the cute-mean cartoon book all met with rousing approval. She purchased the latter, as it made the best substitute for Oakland Magazine as bathroom reading.

After an interval at home long enough for Baby Dog to have her afternoon nap, we made spontaneous dinner plans with the Pirates, meeting them at Picante for supper. Baby Pirate is nearing a year old, and it’s astounding to see how far along she is in the sitting up and almost-walking department. She and Baby Dog have greater and more meaningful interactions every time we see them. It was very cute this time. As Papa Pirate settled his girl into the baby seat, she reached out to Baby Dog, who was seated next to her in the stroller. Grinning shyly, Baby Pirate took Baby Dog’s hand. Baby Dog gave a great big smile. Papa Pirate assured me that her intentions are honourable. Picante’s a great place to take the churrens. It’s always crowded and noisy as hell, so nobody notices the sound of one fussy baby. Fortunately, both the girls were in equable moods throughout the dinner, and in fact displayed many a burst of spontaneous delight. I accidentally enthralled the pair of them by spinning the little sign with our order number on it betwixt thumb and forefinger. I heard Papa Pirate laugh and looked up to see both little girls transfixed with slack-jawed wonder. If only every audience were so easy to unintentionally entertain.


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