It happened again – the family curse of nearby candles setting unexpected fires.
Around the winter solstice, a few of us gals get together for a night out at an area restaurant to catch up, celebrate our achievements (I like to make lists), and bemoan the catastrophes of the past 12 months (usually the larger list). This is our second year at the same restaurant. After last year’s noisy brouhaha, they put us in an inconspicuous booth way, way back. Near the restrooms. But it did not faze us.
In honor of whatever holiday we celebrate, I like to get little goofy presents for us. People need presents. One year it was an assortment of earrings. This year’s gifts were a gaggle of socks. Everyone needs warm socks, don’t we? Well maybe not in this December’s hot and humid weather.
I wrapped the gifts in pretty tissue paper and tied them up with bows and shiny glass balls. Arriving at the restaurant before the others, I tucked the table’s teensy-weensy candle out of the way. Memories of when my mother set the synagogue’s carpet on fire and of this year’s flaming Chanukah card incident have made me vigilant. With a carefree smile, I arranged the presents across the table. The table looked festive. My friends sat down. They smiled. We began our frolicking.
Into our second round of drinks, either the restaurant grew warmer or the heat from our frolicking bent one section of tissue paper.
Into the candle. The teensy-weensy candle. The corner of tissue paper caught fire. Wide-eyed with surprise at the tissue paper’s betrayal, I looked over the flames at my friend. Her eyes were large. Nonchalantly, I tried to pat it out. (All I had was wine to throw on the fire – I had a vague recollection that this would not be good, or work.)
I patted and poof. The fire spread to another present. Immediately, the table looked on fire. Flames erupted towards the ceiling. I heard a slight crackling. All eyes were glued to our table. I looked to our waitperson for help. He was young, instantly almost a child young, with a stunned, ‘I-have-never-seen-this, they-didn’t-train-me-for-this,’ look on his face. The restaurant was mesmerized as the flames reached higher. My mouth fell open. The waitperson swore in French. Nonchalance pranced out the door.
Luckily, an older, more experienced waitperson came over, scooped up the Socks Flambé, and tossed them on the tile floor. In a second, the flames were out.
In the watchful, quiet restaurant, we blinked. Our pupils returned to normal size.
“Can we have another round?” I asked the waiter.
“Surely,” he said putting our candle on another table. That table’s patrons posthaste blew out our candle. The waitperson picked up the crispy tissue gifts from the floor. With a smirk, he placed them on the table. “That’ll make a good review on Yelp.” I nodded mouth still open.
“We need to leave him a good tip,” said one friend.
“Yessirree,” I said nodding my head like the bobble heads found on a car’s dashboard. They nodded in return.
The festivities resumed. The flame-tinged socks were met with giggles. We left an excellent tip.
“Let’s do this again soon,” we promised each other.
“Yeah but without the fire,” I said. More head nodding.
Safe in my home with an unlit fireplace, I swore to myself, “I am done setting fires.” The cat meowed her approval but I think I heard the faint laughter of my mother.