Mouse, my obese, four year-old Siamese male, goes out every night from 9 or 10 pm until crash time around midnight or so. I clap and he comes running from the shadows. Last night around 12:45 am I heard him yowling in that distress-call sort of way that cats use when they’re scared. He’d gotten himself trapped inside the outdoor backyard area of Le Pain Quotidien, which is right next door. There’s a big gate that the employees close and lock when they go home, and Mouse was on the wrong side of it.

I went outside and told Mouse to hang on. The gate has five or six inches of free space so I called him over to see if he could slide under, or could be pulled under. But Mouse was too fat. I was about to haul myself over the gate, which is about eight or nine feet tall, and go through the whole strained-exertion, T-shirt-ripping, pulling-a-ligament routine. Then I suddenly said “eff it” and called the West Hollywood fire station. They asked for details and said to hang tight. They showed up ten or twelve minutes later — four guys in their late 20s to mid 30s. No fire hats but rubber boots and T-shirts and overalls and all the rest of the unifirm.

One of the guys leaned over an adjoining wall and used a long wooden pole to open the two or three metal slide bolts on the gate, and the gate swung open. Mouse and I were relieved and very grateful.

Thanks to the good firemen of West Hollywood, and no, I didn’t buy them a 36″ pizza or a 24-pack of beer. That would be patronizing. That would be me saying “you guys are a team of really nice, good-hearted, blue-collar schlubs in the Denis Leary mold, and I appreciate what you did.” This is West Hollywood. There’s a decent chance that one or two of the guys who visited last night were gay and perhaps more health-conscious than your average Rescue Me-type firefighter, and therefore don’t drink beer or eat pizza or watch ESPN. Maybe I’ll bring them a plant or something. I need to give this some thought.