When humans are hungover, it’s a pretty good time.
There’s much less hubbubbing. All leg piles on the couch and sweatpants. An evening of hang-ear neglect repaid with lunchtime naps and extra eggy farts.
That’s how it was until brunch invented itself.
Now, egg fart day is ruined. Noon rolls around, and my yoga-pantsed mumma is headed out the door to eat bacon and drink spicy tomato water without me. I’m left to dig around in the ficus for kernels of fertilizer, wondering when she’ll come home to bury her sweaty head in my neck.
It’s gone this way since mumma hit her 30s. But now that the Howe Daily Kitchen and Bar in south Minneapolis opened a year-round patio with a three-course dog menu, things are looking up for Ol’ Camp Daddy (me).
On a warm Saturday in January, she harnesses me up and yanks me along to brunch. The plan is to meet my brindled football girlfriend: Beatrice. The two of us have been dating since we met on the job in 2015, and lemme tell ya, the peanut butter is long since out of the Kong. Sure, things started off all snuggles and wrestle humps, but now we don’t even nap in the same sunbeam.
Part of me is hoping the human phenomenon of brunch can bring us back together. Another part is hoping this is the last brunch me or my mumma will ever attend again.
We arrive at the Howe, and the world is melty. Snowbanks are dripping down to icy discs that don’t even melt when you pee pee on ‘em. Inside the Tail Station tent, the cement patio is wet. As I walk in, I see a pomeranian with black dirt all over her tail and legs. I glance up at my mumma nervously, but she ignores me, waving to a woman I don’t know with long, uncuddly legs.
I take my spot under the table. There’s a grimy yoga mat down there with a slobber-stained water bowl. Before I can dismay too much, Beatrice walks in, whining like a brand new squeak toy. The sound makes me bury my head in my mumma’s jeans.
Beatrice arrives wearing a saggy sweatshirt, but she doesn’t come alone. With her is a spotted dingo with eyes fuller than a great dane’s poop baggie. She's tethered to a big, thick rope leash, tongue hanging out of her head, tags jingling. Bea runs over to me and sticks her face needily into mine. I brush her off, eyes transfixed on the dingo. Her name is Josie, and her mumma has a tattoo of her face on her wrist.
I am gonna be a bad boy.
The tension is broken by an enthusiastic waitress. “Oh, we’ve got all sorts of kids!” she exclaims, confusing the shit out of me. She offers scritches, and we all accept, forgetting the grimy pavement and heart-tugging love triangle in the process.
The Tail Station serves five menu items specifically for dogs, most notably the “Pooched” Egg Brunch Bowl -- a poached egg served over brown rice and vegetables. They also have food for humans, but at this point, I’ve paced myself into an elaborate leash knot under the table. When I yank, drops of spicy tomato water fall through the picnic table above me. I gnaw nervously at my armpit as Beatrice leaps into her mumma’s lap.
This is my chance. I wiggle my way (ass first) out of my harness. Free, my instincts explode. I run nakedly across the tent, stopping to pee pee on a sandbag. I forget all about Josie and just run. Brunch is a nightmare, and I’ll do anything to make it end.
Before I finish my escape, my mumma scoops me up and straps me back in. The food has arrived, so at least there’s good news. Mumma lays down the pooched egg bowl, and it’s steaming hot. It smells like an old microwave -- one of my top 100 favorite smells in the kitchen. I dive in muzzle first.
It’s excruciating. Everything about this afternoon is. I spit the egg across the wet stone, nosing around in the rice until the steam makes me sneeze. I panic again. I suck the egg down, but mumma takes the rice away to cool. Damn it.
Josie gets a pig’s ear. She’s not quite sure what to do with it. This must’ve been a big ol’ piggie, because its ear is bigger than her head. She gnaws cautiously. I wonder if she knows how adorable she looks.
Up at the table, the humans are grumbling unhappily. There’s piles of food on their plates un-scarfed. Beatrice is sounding her hunger alarm. She’s running back and forth between the laps of her mumma and the woman with the unsnuggly legs. Turns out her pooched egg bowl never arrived, and she’s gone into a maniacal rage. She’s stepping out of her sweatshirt. Underneath, she’s wearing my old puppy harness. I can smell her eager garbage breath from across the table.
Oh god, she’s perfect. What have I done.
The people finish their tomato water and pay the bill. I forget about my rice as we’re dragged off and out of the tent. I take one last look at Josie. Her eyes ripple like two toilet bowls I will never taste. I turn away to pee pee on the door and resolve to never look back to the Tail Station -- or Josie -- ever again.