on November 23, 2015
Weekday mornings in Temescal Alley are quiet. The clinking of a spoon against the side of a coffee cup can be easily heard over the faint hum of traffic from nearby Telegraph Avenue. The occasional burst of male laughter or the sound of a buzzing electric razor escapes through the barbershop’s open door. A small handful of people, some on vacation, others perhaps taking a day off a la Ferris Bueller, walk languidly past the little shops, some with coffee and doughnuts in hand. You can grab a pastry from Doughnut Dolly, overflowing with rich, sweet filling at 8 a.m., but there will be no ice cream from Curbside Creamery until noon.
Men come in shifts to sit on the benches outside of the barbershop, some in sweatpants, and others in work attire. Most don’t make eye contact; they’re on their phones. Occasionally a barber steps outside to call a name. A man goes in, and twenty minutes later emerges looking refreshed, confident and a little less shaggy.
A woman wearing relaxed jeans and sea blue Birkenstocks walks her dog, Ernie Banks, named after the baseball player, at a slow pace, looking in the windows of shops along the west side of the alley. On the other side of the alley, another dog, Monster is staring intently at Ernie, who is oblivious to the other canine presence. Monster begins to pull on his leash, his front half lifting off of the ground, energy pulsing through his little legs, which can’t be more than three inches long.
When Monster finally catches Ernie’s attention, the two dogs lunge at each other, disturbing for a moment the last half hour’s near-silence. The owners of both dogs gain control, and the dogs go about their business somewhat peacefully, though not without giving each other the side-eye. They will stay wary until their owners grow tired of the little shops and leave the alley, right before the ice cream shop opens at noon. Finally.
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