Socks Flambe, or Living with a Family Curse

Last night I went out with a gaggle of girlfriends hoping that IT WOULD NOT HAPPEN AGAIN. Yes, I live under a family curse of accidental fires erupting from holiday candles.Most years, 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). We went to a new restaurant this year; I don’t think last year’s restaurant would let us back because of the incident.At last year’s winter solstice dinner, the restaurant 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. People need presents. One year it was an assortment of earrings. That year’s gifts were a gaggle of socks. Everyone needs warm socks, don’t we?I had wrapped the gifts in pretty tissue paper of brilliant turquoise, stormy blue, spicy orange, and other non-traditional colors. The frilly gifts were tied 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 the 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. Huge. 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 effective.)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. Everyone in the restaurant was mesmerized as the flames reached for the ceiling. 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 had meowed her approval, but I think I heard the faint laughter of my mother.This year’s dinner was sedate. Home by 9. No fires but I moved everyone’s napkins to the edges of the table, just in case. Mom would be proud.(modified from my blog at

Source: Socks Flambe, or Living with a Family Curse


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