Chairman Bao is a Shih Tzu. We travel a lot. I drive. He watches. We've logged at least 10,000 miles and he's never once said, Sweetheart, don't you think you should stop and ask someone?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

There's no place like home. Here's Bao, back home at last, in bed.

What did Bao think of New York? Lots of smells. Lots and lots of smells. Try as he might (and believe me, he tried) he couldn't mark every stanchion and hydrant and lightpost. Other than that, there were too many people around, most of whom didn't look where they were going. But that didn't matter. There were a million new smells, and the smells are what it's about, if you're a dog.

From Bao's point of view, New York reeked deliciously of dog urine (the most important odor of all) and discarded bits of fast food and candy wrappers and wonderful bags of garbage stacked at every corner -- he reckons it's one of the best places he's ever smelled.

The culinary high point of the trip (again from Bao's point of view) was not Tavern on the Green or even Players, but the awful frankfurter we got at Katz's Delicatessen on the lower East Side. We were on a walking tour, but -- like Le Steak Bistro the night before -- the manager of Katz's wouldn't allow a service animal through the door. Ordinarily I wouldn't spend a nickel in a place like that but it was 2 PM and I hadn't eaten since breakfast and my stomach was rumbling. So I gave our tour guide a few dollars and asked him to please buy me a hot dog while we waited outside on the sidewalk.

When it arrived in its brown paper bag, it was the sorriest looking, most forlorn hot dog I've ever seen. It had clearly been immersed in boiling water for a long, long time (perhaps decades) and its color reminded me of the things you see in bottles of formaldehyde in high school biology laboratories.

But I was so hungry! Maybe, I thought hopefully, it tastes better than it looks. But it didn't. It tasted like a piece of solidified, rancid dishwater, topped with sauerkraut. And the bun was so soggy you could squeeze it like a sponge. Katz's Delicatessen is a big tourist attraction because it's been there since 1888. Maybe it's time they called it a day.

By now I'd totally lost my appetite.

You don't want this, I told Bao.

But he did want it. Oh! how he wanted it! And the damn thing cost $4, and it seemed a shame to waste all that money. Okay, I said. But don't blame me if you get sick.

Needless to say, he didn't get sick. On the contrary, Katz's Delicatessen was the culinary highlight of the entire trip. From Bao's point of view, that is.