I often like to take my dinner at Christopher’s in Porter Square. They provide a warm, brick bar atmosphere, good burgers, and both a rotating and static selection of fairly amazing beers. Plus one of the bartenders, here left anonymous to protect the innocent and my beer alike, knows me as a regular and sometimes passes me free pints.

I try never to pay attention to the other customers while I eat. In my experience, it’s best to let the barflies whirl around someone else. In fact, I find that that’s true in general. Since the Sox pregame was on, and not the game itself, I tried to focus on my burger and beer, measuring carefully how quickly to eat and drink. Occasionally I’d turn to my right and wonder about the woman next to me and her vegetarian burger. She’s a regular, too. She used to work as a receptionist at one of the Boston Sports Clubs, but that was years ago. She’s since moved on and works as a receptionist at Genzyme. It’s hard to guess which is better. But it’s been five or six years now, and she seems happy. She reads well, looks good, eats well. Things can’t be that bad. At least that’s what she was telling one of her old customers at the other end of the bar.

But none of that was interesting to me. No, instead I wanted to know about her veggie burger. I know she eats meat and she’s defended before that Christopher’s just serves a fine veggie burger. To judge by analogy, I’m sure I’d agree. But I’ve never tried it. I like meat. So why would a non-vegetarian order a vegetarian meal? I preoccupied myself with this thought, trying to come up with reasonable excuses.

Not fully aware of my surroundings, I was disturbed when I heard the bartender tell another customer, this time to my left, “Yeah, I’ve got a girl, but she’s spayed.”

My head swung up for the response.

“I’ve got a girl, too. So it shouldn’t matter,” the customer replied.

For the next several moments I tried to reconstruct their conversation. In not too long, I had it. The customer started out with a question:

“So, do you want to come by this weekend for some backyard doggy-time?” I knew I had heard him say it, but at the time I was still mystified by the woman on my right and her meatless patty. Even still, the words are too fantastic to understand taken alone, and the bartender’s response does little to clarify the situation.

“Sure, but do you have a backyard?” He seemed skeptical. His tone alluded to nefarious undertakings. What were they talking about: drugs, sex, something far worse? It was hard to know. In any event, it was more exciting than the two tool consultants between them and me who exclaimed loudly how awesome and important their work, and they, by extension, is.

“Yeah, I have a backyard. What do you have, anyway?” the customer answered. And here we enter.

And then it all made sense. He did not spay a human girl; backyard doggy-time was just that—time spent in the backyard with your spayed doggies. Somehow I wish otherwise.

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