Personal crisis had Bottomfeeder in a bluesy mood a couple Sundays ago. So I went and walked Green Lake, the breeding ground for athletic glory during my North End adolescence. Every time I take a spin around the lake, I run into someone I haven't seen for five or six years but wish I saw every five or six days. On this blue morning, though, I didn't bump into anybody I knew, just a tiger-striped pit bull that reminded me of a similar dog back in St. Louis. That dog was owned by a heroin addict named Bryant whom I'd become acquainted with during my four-year heartland sabbatical. I thought about where Bryant might hang out if he were in Seattle. Easy answer: Aurora Avenue North, where nothing—including the people—fits together in a manner befitting sparkly, symmetrical Seattle. Aurora might be an odd choice for a place to cure the blues. Let me digress: Every so often, I walk to my downtown office via Western Avenue instead of First. This route takes me by both the Millionair Club and Casa Latina, where day laborers of varying ethnicities stand on the sidewalk awaiting would-be employers. Both scenes are a tad foreboding. Where there are down-on-their-heels folks looking for a hand up in life, there are inevitably going to be dime-bag dealers looking to bring them back down. Walking through this daily hustle makes me realize, among other things, that no matter how bad I've got it, somebody's got it worse. It's therapeutic in a twisted sort of way. Which is why I found myself a few blocks north of the city limits, looking for the eatery with the shabbiest exterior I could spot. I found it at 157th Street North and Aurora Avenue North: an Irish-themed bar and grill called Shay's. I walked in expecting the needle to stop on the record player, me a pretty little beer nurse wading into a sea of career alcoholics. But bulbous-snouted boozers were nowhere to be found in Shay's dark lounge, and, given the gray day, the diner section of the restaurant was almost sunny. Its working-class clientele ranged from elderly regulars to families fresh from church and a gay couple—in short, the antithesis of scary. My waitress was a blonde named Tammy, who I imagine has worked at Shay's for a very long time. Such a plight has been known to get a server down. But not Tammy, who made the mystery meat in my Shay's Country Breakfast ($7.99) pass for edible with the sheer power of her unforced smile. Maybe she knew I was having a shitty morning. Or maybe she knows that shitty mornings can happen to not-so-shitty people, and it's her table-by-table mission in life to try and right that wrong. firstname.lastname@example.org
Shay's 15744 Aurora Ave. N., 206- 363-8877. Restaurant: 7 a.m.–11 p.m. Sun.–Thurs.; 7 a.m.–midnight Fri.–Sat. Bar: 10 a.m.–2 a.m. daily.