Tonight I approached a perfect stranger sitting alone at an outdoor table at the beer garden near my house and said, “Do you mind if I use this corner to set something on fire?” (as you do).
The stranger said, “Sure,” and then moved closer to the fire source.
Only one of two things could explain such a reaction:
- The stranger somehow knew that I’m only capable of setting things ablaze accidentally. (I owned a cat who could’ve attested to that, had he not passed away long ago under circumstances that I swear did not involve fire.)
- The stranger was a man.
The second explanation was the only one I could confirm with a visual.
I really shouldn’t have been at the beer garden at all tonight, much less setting things ablaze, because, in addition to bringing back bacon shirts from the road trip to Allentown, I also brought back a case of strep throat. I capped off my weekend with the Roommates by making a festive trip to the urgent care center yesterday, so the only rounds I’m doing right now involve antibiotics. But I stopped by my local watering hole anyway because the friend of a dear friend happened to be in town, just for tonight, and I wanted to meet her. (The meds had been in my system for more than 24 hours, the friends gave informed consent, and I wore a HazMat suit.)
Shortly after I showed up and introduced myself from a medically safe distance, she pulled a few small wrapped pastries from her purse. She’s of Italian descent and had wanted to buy the cookies, which are supposed to bring good luck, for the wedding she came to attend, but she didn’t find them until after the event. Once you’ve polished off the cookie, you’re supposed to make a wish, roll the empty wrapper into a cylinder, stand it up on end, set it ablaze, and watch your wish take flight.
I was disappointed to learn that you had to do more than eat the cookie to get the good luck. Still, I decided to give it a go. I’m in the market for wish fulfillment –who isn’t? –and this sounded way easier than praying.
I let my friends go fist. Their papers caught fire with ease but flight was another matter altogether. They attributed their botched launches to our table, one of those wire mesh jobs that made it hard to get the paper cylinder to stay vertical. Having learned from their poor choice of platform, I wandered to the standard wooden picnic table where the stranger was sitting. His table offered greater flatness, not to mention flammability.
I’m superstitious when it comes to things like wishing, so rather than aim for something grand, like finding true love, I decided to lower the stakes and wish for a couple of good dates.
No doubt you’ve heard that life imitates art, but maybe you didn’t know that it also imitates flaming wish paper. No sooner did my cookie wrapper catch fire than it capsized and played dead. Then a breeze blew it, still ablaze, in the direction of the stranger, who wore a wedding ring. This time he had the good sense to recoil.
The good news? Just because your wish burns to ashes doesn’t mean it won’t come true; it just means you need to make another wish. So pass the cookies, will ya?