I ordered an espresso at Dune, our favourite café in Santa Barbara, and sat on a bench in the sunlight, watching a Hollywood type at a nearby table. He was older, handsome and distinguished, with a trimmed beard and a shaggy mane of blonde hair on the body of a twelve-year-old. I’ve read somewhere that the camera loves people with big heads. I can see the visual logic of this.
With him was a dachshund, which leapt on the chair opposite its master and perched with its nose near the table, as if waiting for its cinnamon latte.
The image was too good, and I was weighing whether to ask Mr. Hollywood-Handsome if I could take his dog’s picture. You can’t very well ask a stranger to photograph his kid. That’s just too creepy. But a dog — is that acceptable? Then again, dog people can be crazy.
As I vacillated, a guy emerged from Dune with a cup of coffee and sat near me on the bench. He was wearing an old Roots ball cap blazoned with a Canadian flag.
Of course I had to ask. But Steve, as it turned out, is not Canadian. He’s from Burlington, Vermont, and now lives in Santa Barbara. He played hockey at Middlebury College. In fact, played games all over Quebec. Got drunk often in Montreal. Hung out at the tam-tam on Mount Royal. Misses the northern hills ablaze with fall colours. Still burns for Bernie.
He’s a runner, too, and gets lost as easily as I do. We talked about the local running routes, the state of his country and the world.
Then we both had to go. Steve hopped on his bike and headed home, while I went in search of more things to see.
I never did get my photo of the dachshund.