Monday, December 28, 2009

Esprit (Dog) Park

In the distance, a shiny canine is leaping, hunting a ratty tennis ball and retrieving it and dropping it at someone’s feet. The animal heaves powerfully, and its tongue dangles from one side of its mouth. The dog gets closer, larger. I can make out a set of yellow teeth and a pair of black lips that fence in a wilting tongue. The tongue drips saliva until the ball is tossed again, into the trees, and the tongue retracts and the animal is microscopic again.

On this Saturday afternoon, on the path to Esprit Park, the air is arctic and angry. Forty degrees, maybe. It’s the coolest weather San Francisco has seen all year. The breeze plays with a heap of garbage that's scattered along the alley, a product of an “up and coming” neighborhood with still too many good-for-nothings living on its backstreets.

For me, Fridays are spent shopping and Saturdays relaxing. Most city-dwellers seem to occupy Sundays with repose and unwinding, but because I’m slogging away at the office on The Day of Rest, I improvise. Darren is out, so I snatch a new hardback from my make-do bookcase and throw on my jacket and lock the front door behind me. I’ve been wanting to read in the park since we moved to the neighborhood, but something always gets in the way, and I haven’t done it yet. (Shopping, maybe. Sometimes I shop on Fridays and Saturdays.1)

As I near the grass and the picnic benches, more dogs come into view. In fact, the public garden that I’d formed in my imagination appears to be a dog park — as in, dogs and owners allowed only.

Where are the young couples lounging under shady trees, opening picnic baskets and bottles of wine and staring into each others’ eyes? Where’s the romance?

Despite the fact that it’s forty degrees and windy, there’s dog shit everywhere. Which is not romantic. Mentally, I scratch “Have Picnic at Esprit Park” off of the list of things I want to do in my new neighborhood.2

I’m not sure if the city technically has designated this a dog park, so I decide to plop down on a vacant bench and open my book. (Hell, I’m already here.) I delve deep into a fresh novel — with only 120 pages, I’m determined to read every last word in one sitting — and get to page ten before a woman’s screech knocks me off the seat.

“Starbucks? Starbucks!” she wails.

I open my word hole to tell her there’s not a Starbucks within a mile of here — and to kindly shut up — before I realize she’d named her dog after the too-popular coffee shop.3 The shouting persists for longer than I can swallow. So I get up, close my book, and trek home.

It was fun while it lasted. (Read: If you don’t have a dog, go somewhere else.)

Hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
2 Me? Sit in dog poop while wining and dining? Absolutely not.
3 Original, isn't it?

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  1. Meghan,
    I love your blog! I have quite the love affair with San Francisco and hope to live there someday!
    Check out my blog at: