“Sit. Stay.” Dogs are beloved at The Barking Dog Luncheonette on Third Avenue.
by Elizabeth Howard
The Barking Dog is a luncheonette just at the corner of the block where I live. A friendly neighborhood spot where one can find comfort food (burgers, mac n’ cheese, hot roast beef sandwiches) and brunch, with swell pancakes and bacon and eggs on Saturday and Sunday. It’s been there for decades, and although the management has changed and the interior was renovated a few years ago, basically, as the world turns the Barking Dog remains the same. The large screen television over the bar is fairly quiet and cannot be seen or heard from the dining room and it’s possible to actually have a conversation because the music isn’t too loud. There are no gimmicks. Couples meet there after work, singles who live near-by go there with a newspaper or book and during the summer, when there are tables and chairs on the sidewalk, people bring their dogs.
Often, I jokingly call the Barking Dog “my kitchen.” Returning home after a reception or an early movie, it’s easier to just stop there for dinner then to think about preparing something at home. Which is what I did last week.
The restaurant was busy, with most of the tables and small booths taken. There were empty stools at the bar and I wanted to just be in and out. I sat down and noticed there were only women at the bar. Two lovely young women, laughing and talking, were seated on my left and on my right two women who seemed engaged in a more serious conversation. My stool was at the corner of the bar, just in the middle.
Although I was reading, soon enough I was engaged in talking with the two women who were seated on my right. One was in New York visiting and caring for her aunt who had fallen and lived alone. Her friend was someone who had been her mentor years ago when she was living in New York as a high school student. I moved down so we could have a conversation. Then another young woman came in and took what had been my chair. An architect, she had left her husband to put her children to bed while she just came down for a glass of wine and a salad.
Soon the four of us were engaged in a conversation. We talked about politics, issues related to women’s health and exercise. We never bothered to introduce ourselves, it wasn’t necessary.
We laughed and I believe each one of us could feel the warmth and caring that was being shared.
It was clear something was different. There were no men at the bar. Not one. It occurred to me that what we were doing was what men have always done when they sit together at a bar. Without beer, without glancing up at the sports being broadcast on the screens and confident in our own bodies.
Virginia Woof in A Room of One’s Own, imagines that Shakespeare had a sister and yet she never writes because she isn’t given the opportunity. What women needed, writes Woolf, is “a room of her own, let alone a quiet room or a sound-proof rom, (which) was out of the question, unless her parents were exceptionally rich or very noble, even up to the beginning of the nineteenth century. …”
The women sitting together at the Barking Dog last week were not there looking for a date, drowning sorrows in a cocktail or watching sports. We were there having a light dinner and relaxing. We were just a few chicks sitting around talking. When I left that evening, I felt that something had changed and it felt good. Women are finding a room of their own.
In the summer when it’s warm even dogs have a bar and a place of their own at the Barking Dog Luncheonette on Third Avenue.
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