All through their first date, there was no mention of dogs. Not once did she say, "I like dogs" or "I love dogs" or even "I have a dog." So naturally, dogs were the furthest thing from his mind. But when he picked her up for their second date at her East Sixth Street apartment, he found himself faced with several unpleasant surprises.
She lived on the block that many referred to as Little India, in a slummy basement studio under a restaurant called the New Delhi Deli. He knew she was a struggling actress, but somehow--when he'd first met her as a long-term temp at the midtown marketing communications firm where he worked--she'd seemed too grounded, too practical and, as he saw it, too "normal" for such an eccentric address. The entranceway smelled of curry, the narrow hall inside smelled of something dead, and he heard her neighbors abusing each other in a variety of incomprehensible tongues.
It was a far cry from his doorman building on the Upper West Side.
The second surprise came when she unbolted the door and let him in. He was met with a smile, a kiss on the cheek, and--emanating from under the futon bed frame--the unmistakable growl of a surly canine.
His breath caught and he tried to control the tremor in his voice. "Oh," he said. "You have a dog?"
How could she have hidden this from him?
Of course, he knew, there was no way she could have realized this was a problem--no way she would have assumed that he was just one of those people filled with a sense of terror at even the measliest Chihuahua or geriatric Scottie.
He tried to set it aside, but as the evening proceeded, it continued to remain a mental obstacle. All he...