By Cory Sklar
By Alee Karim
By Christina Li
By Dave Pehling
By Ian S. Port
By SF Weekly
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
As some wise sage once said, timing is everything. Last week I showed up at Martuni's too early for the piano bar and too late for the happy hour. I watched the couple next to me ignore their bowl of bar snacks — a delightful mix of pretzels, melba toast, and other little crunchy crackery wonders. Damn, I wanted some b'snacks. Those two lovebirds obviously weren't interested in theirs, but something told me that it wouldn't be good form to ask for the bowl. Instead, I inquired with the bartender. "They just pulled them," she said. I guess the place has a pretty strict happy-hour snack code. She could see the look of anguish on my face, though, so she went and asked someone else if they could bend the rules for me. Nope.
This was my introduction to Martuni's, a bar that has been on my must-try list for about three years. Everyone has a story, good or bad, about the place. Few people seem indifferent about Martuni's.
Judging from its name, I was expecting the bar to be kind of corny and exceedingly gay. I really needed a place like that, because I wanted a diversion. I knew I would have to have my dog put to sleep soon, and that fact had been weighing on me all week.
Martuni's is wonderfully dark — so dark that I couldn't see my crossword puzzle. I had to move the votive candle right next to it, which is probably how Abe Lincoln did his word searches at Clem Crabber's Log Hut and Whiskey Emporium. But I digress. Despite the lack of b'snacks, I liked this place. The big surprising thing about Martuni's is how small it is. The place is tiny. Despite that fact, it seemed to have a ratio of one staff member per customer. The night I was there, three bartenders, two cocktail servers, and other people were flitting about. My bartender was exceedingly nice, welcoming me and saying how glad she was that I was there, and she really seemed to mean it. She whipped up a margarita — no martini for me, though the array of iced glasses lined up at the ready were kinda cute.
Then the same thing happened to me that had been happening all day: I started to feel happy and content, then I remembered that my dog was sick at home and I didn't know what I would find when I got back. Jeez, I really needed some b'snacks.
When you are dealing with the death of a pet, many things go through your head. Mostly you are looking for comfort in odd places — for example, some sign that you are doing the right thing in ending the animal's life at that point. For me, that sign came from Hillary Clinton. It was the day after she barely won the Indiana primary, and she was trounced by Barack Obama in North Carolina. Even though the math hasn't been on Hillary's side since March, the entire country seemed to be patiently waiting with her to see if she could pull ahead. Then she won Pennsylvania, and wow! Overnight, it seemed Barack was toast. Yep, Hillary was gonna get the superdelegates to join her, and the media was doing a great job of showing how she had all the white voters on her side. Then came last week's primary, and ... come on. We just knew it was over. I really felt sad for her, even though I pretty much don't like her.
Anyway, this is how things have been going with my dog. You think it's the end, that the math just ain't working: She can't keep food down, doesn't want to go for a walk, won't even sniff at the cat. Could it be time? You really don't want to face it. Is there anything harder than saying goodbye? Then you come home and she's jumping around, happy to see you, and she eats an entire container of Gerber baby food. Victory in Pennsylvania! The tide is turning! Your dog is bouncing back. Then the next day ... no. When that hits you, that you really have to let your pet go, it is just about the saddest thing imaginable.
So, sitting there at Martuni's, with "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena" playing on the sound system, trying not to weep, I felt it in my bones. My doggie was ready to go. Just as I know it's Hillary's time to bow out. The only difference is that I was going to do the grownup thing and end my dog's suffering, even though it would cause me pain. Hillary doesn't seem to have the same plan.
The bartender brought me the bill on a cute little clipboard. I moved the votive over so I could read it. They had switched the music to some Beatles covers, the soundtrack to Across the Universe. I really hate the Beatles.
When I got home my dog was looking thin and forlorn. She was sitting on the couch, which she is not allowed to do, but she gave me a sort of "C'mon! I'm dyin' here" look, so I even put a pillow under her head. I cried and cried all the next day, and stroked her. She ate a biscuit. Could she be bouncing back? I had to stop thinking such things. It was time.