A bunch of us had gathered at Sandy’s house. She was a cook, aspiring to be a professional. When she invited us for a meal, it was good. Always a good feeding and delicious. We were her test subjects, never knowing what great idea she’d come up with. Whatever, we were happy to eat it.
On this day, Sandy was dressed — as always — in a floaty Indian blouse and long skirt. The blouse had angel-wing sleeves. Very pretty, if a bit inconvenient in the kitchen. All of us had been smoking a little hashish. We’d have been smoking pot, but it was hard to come by. Hashish was ubiquitous, available everywhere. All it really meant was we were building up a hearty appetite. It was our appetizer.
“Hey,” I said. “Sandy! You are on fire.” Sure enough, the wings of her blouse passed smoldering — I’d missed that — and were now in flames.
“Oh,” said Sandy, flustered.
All the friends stood there like stuffed dummies, staring at the pretty fire. Morons, I mumbled. Then, I put out the fire. Cotton doesn’t flame up quickly and if one is attentive, it’s easy to douse. Sandy thanked me profusely for a commonplace thing I’d have done for anyone. What was more interesting was how the rest of the gang just stood there with their mouths open, apparently at a loss to know what to do. Not good in a crisis, I surmised.
“No one else tried to put out the fire,” said Sandy.
“Not a big deal,” I said, and it wasn’t. I still don’t understand why I was the only one who realized that “Sandy is on fire” should be followed by putting out the fire.
Sandy stopped wearing loose clothing in the kitchen and stopped inviting those friends for dinner. Shortly thereafter, following a misunderstanding with the local constabulary vis-à-vis the growing of certain plants on her balcony, she moved to San Francisco and opened a chain of take-out restaurants. I visited her there. She’s doing fine and no longer feels obliged to grow her own on the balcony.