I Made It Through The Wilderness

Not being the type to play with matches (I prefer lighters) it's difficult to figure why fire always wants to make friends with me. Yes, I dabbled in candle making for a while and sure, I was in Las Vegas when the Monte Carlo hotel caught fire but that probably had nothing to do with me.

I haven't even written about an incident several years ago where I walked into my brother's high rise apartment to find it engulfed in flames. I had to wake him from a stupor to get him to safety but for now, I'm concentrating on adding my Dad's 80th birthday celebration dinner to the fire story archives.

Six of the nine offspring made it home to pay homage to Dad and we were joined by assorted in-laws, friends and relatives. The plan was for a nice dinner at a Chinese restaurant which had a private room to contain our rambunctiousness until we could make it to the after party at my sister's house.

On our way to the restaurant, a snowstorm just getting underway helped make the drive a true labour of love. We arrived to greetings from a world weary waitress with a complexion the colour of waxy buildup. She showed us to our seats and we got to figuring which delights on offer we'd order. I settled on a Szechuan combination plate that included Lemon Chicken. I asked if I could have the lemon sauce on the side and her reply of "If I remember" set the tone for service.

We haphazardly received our meals but spirits remained high through all our funning and everything was excellent. Dinner wound down while the storm raged on, the flickering lights generating more conversation about the storm. I figured if the power went out, so would the electric abacus and there might be trouble figuring out how to pay.

Nearing the end of our meal, the waitress re-entered the room with a piece of cake lit with a single candle for the guest of honour as the lights blinked some more. "Oh, the lights are flickering in here too?" she asked. "Must be the storm" someone answered. "Oh no, there's an electrical fire in the wall at the back of the restaurant but it's nothing to worry about. If you hear sirens or see firetrucks pulling up, don't worry, just enjoy the rest of your meal!". Her exit was far less dramatic than her last statement.

The roomful of confused patrons left in her wake puzzled over what she'd said: "A fire? In the wall? Did she say just say there was a fire in the wall?" "Should we still be here if there's a fire?" "Was she serious?"

A minute or so later, a troop of firefighters stormed into the restaurant with axes and a chainsaw. They looked at us as and quickly sent the manager in. "I'm sorry but the firemen think we should ask people to leave the restaurant, sorry!" he said beating his retreat.

We donned our coats and made a Seinfeldian run for it as my parents lingered at the back of the line. I'm glad I didn't have to push either of them out of my way, that may have looked bad. The smell of smoke was just becoming evident as we slipped and slid our way into the parking lot toward our cars with the other confused patrons.

There seemed to be nothing else to do but leave so we did. Everyone had trouble navigating through the blizzard but we all made it back safely to my sister's place. We had a good laugh at the strange turn of events and much cake and liquor was consumed, my father enjoying the festivities very much.

The storm led to cancellation of my flight home the following day and so I got an unplanned but nice extra day to recover and debrief the celebrations.

The restaurant ended up with a section of wall chainsawed out but the problem was fixed, patched up and they reopened two days later. We checked in on the bill and they knocked 75 dollars from the total for the inconvenience of having our lives endangered.

I made it home the following night and now we're in the middle of a snowstorm here. I really wish I didn't have to work. Anyone got a light?

*Edit: It struck me after reading this again that I didn't clarify that the waitress was Caucasian. It wouldn't really matter although my description of her 'waxy buildup' may have sounded mildly racist as in 'waxy yellow buildup' from an old commercial I remember. I'm never mildly racist, I always go full out.


Old Lady said...

Really, you paid the bill?

Holly said...

We checked in on the bill and they knocked 75 dollars from the total for the inconvenience of having our lives endangered.

I'm with old lady in being shocked that you checked on the bill and paid it. Y'all are good people. That must be why you've got such good karma and get out of fires alive all the time.

SkylersDad said...

I agree with the above, you would think that having your lives at risk might just be compensated with a dinner on the house?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm guessing there were about, what?, 15 of you there. And you got $75 bucks knocked off the bill for dancing with death, which would make your lives worth $5 apiece. Damn, I'm buying you an insurance policy for your birthday.

BeckEye said...

I think you should totally star in an updated version of "Firestarter." Drew Barrymore can co-star as the former child firestarter, who now works as a bagel lady. Fire and love ensue.

Anonymous said...

An exciting story - but it would've been better if you had started it in revenge for the snarky lemon sauce comment. Maybe next time huh?

Beth said...

You need to figure out how to start an electrical fire in the office walls.

pistols at dawn said...

That story is worth living 80 years for.

Falwless said...

I enjoyed the whole fire plot, but the clincher for me was the "If I remember" response from the waitress. That's glorious. What a selfless, considerate soul.

Chris said...

Neato! Glad everyone's okay. Good on you for paying the bill. Can't believe the waitress encouraged you to stay in a burning building...

How odd. How altogether odd.

Dale said...

It wasn't my idea Old Lady!

My sister was worried that her name and number on the reservation she made didn't go up in the fire Holly.

I'd understand if my dad's cake had started the fire Skyler's Dad but yeah, not even a free meal.

Turns out we're each worth about $3.50 Barbara but I can dream that I'm worth a cool 5.

I'm in Beckeye! I don't want to set the world on fire but a movie house? Sure!

She wasn't even snarky Suze, just indifferent.

I know how to Beth but I'm not sure I know how to without getting caught.

We'll have to see if he remembers it for long Pistols.

She would have been enough to keep me happy Falwless but no, she had to start a friggin' fire too.

It was very odd Chris, we really didn't even have time to figure out if she was serious before the axemen showed up.

katrocket said...

Smokin' b-day story! Good thing you're fire retarded!

Gifted Typist said...

Oh Dale, that story just has you oozing from it.

Sans Pantaloons said...

Excellent post Dale. This is a movie scene in waiting. And running.

X. Dell said...

Wow. A new menu item. Sweet and sour roast patron. They certainly didn't seem all that concerned about your safety.

And it's funny to me too that they actually asked you to pay the bill, despite knocking a few bucks off of the price.

BTW, if fire follows you around like that, I'll remember not to take you to my apartment if I see you in New York--at least, not until I've sufficinetly backed up everything on my hard drive to a remote source.

Old Lady said...

Okay, okay...now I get it. Haha
Chinese Fire Drill!

genn6 said...

Old Lady just killed me on that one...

Sounds like you may have some kind of karma or connection with fire in some twisted spiritual way. Should your head start spinning....

Cap'n Ergo Jinglebollocks said...

“Fire is the reuniting of matter with oxygen. If one bears that in mind, every blaze may be seen as a reunion, an occasion of chemical joy. To smoke a cigar is to end a long separation. To burn down a police station is to hold a celebration for billions of happy molecules.”

---Tom Robbins
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

Writeprocrastinator said...

It seems we know which Prodigy song to play in your presence...

"I asked if I could have the lemon sauce on the side and her reply of "If I remember" set the tone for service."

Hmmm, I'll bet bagels to buffalo nickels that her parents came an from an area closer to Seoul than Bejing.

chelene said...

Please add me to the list of people who might not have checked on the bill. But I would have told everyone I know the story so I think the free publicity would have evened it all out.

Leonesse said...

I want a flaming restaurant on my 80th birthday. I mean, what do you get an 80 year old for his birthday? He already has everything. Mouth to mouth from a nice looking paramedic may have just made his decade!

mellowlee said...

That is the most amazing dinner story I have ever read! Totally Seinfeldian. Only you could tell it with such style. It was lovely of them to knock 75$ off the bill. I found it odd that my first thought wasn't "was anyone hurt?" but "I wonder if they still had to pay the bill?"

Come to Vancouver to recoup Dale. It's gorgeous out here, and there are lots of fun things to do! :O)

Flannery Alden said...

Does the Korean Bagle lady know about this?

Chancelucky said...

very funny line about having to push your parents out of the way. It sounds like the Korean Bagel Lady is watching over you and your family :}
I'm glad all of you are okay.

Franki said...

When I saw that waxy buildup statement, I was pretty sure you were being racist on my ears.

Chancelucky said...

As a certified person of Chinese descent, it didn't cross any line for me. What did cross the line though was going to a Chinese banquet and ordering indivdual combination plates. I know you wouldn't necessarily want to share dishes with some of your relatives, based on some of your earlier posts, but you you "Barbarian".

WendyB said...

Now that's what I call a good party.

Dale said...

It's just one of the many ways in which I'm retarded Kat.

I ooze Gifted Typist? Better than drifting, like smoke.

The heroics of helping my mother not slip on ice were left out for pacing reasons Sans.

I'm sure I would be the sweet roasted patron while the waitress would be the sour X. Dell. I promise not to set you or your stuff on fire!

I had to look that up Old Lady, if only I'd thought to call the post that.

The vomiting has finally stopped Genn so I think we're safe.

Fantastic quote Cap'n and now I have a different way to think of family reunions.

Her parents came from the wrong side of the trailer park WP. I want to hear that song now.

We'll have to choose our next restaurant outing carefully Chelene or hire you as an advisor.

We wished we could have had the fireman pose with the axe cutting the cake Leonesse but there just wasn't time.

I wish I could make it out to Vancouver about now Mel, it'd be fun especially since you're there and of course because we're about to get whomped with snow again. Everyone asks about the bill before I can even mention it!

She does Flannery, she laughed although I'm pretty sure she has no clue what I was talking about.

We lived to tell Chancelucky. Why am I quoting Madonna now? Ugh.

In your ears Franki!

You're certifiable Chancelucky. But they had awesome combos on the go! Did I mention the food was hot?

As my sister said Wendy B 'we'll be dining out on this story for years'.

Distributorcap said...

remind me to only have a meal with you outside....

ps -- i would have never paid that bill

Writeprocrastinator said...

"I want to hear that song now."

I'm the trouble starter, punkin' instigator
I'm the fear addicted, a danger illustrated

I'm a firestarter, twisted firestarter
You're the firestarter, twisted firestarter
I'm a firestarter, twisted firestarter

I'm the bitch you hated, filth infatuated - yeeeaaaah
I'm the pain(t) you tasted, well intoxicated

I'm a firestarter, twisted firestarter
You're the firestarter, twisted firestarter

I'm the self inflicted, mind detonator - yeah
I'm the one infected, twisted animator

I'm a firestarter, twisted firestarter
You're the firestarter, twisted firestarter

Tenacious S said...

Hot dang! That sounds like a wild party. Glad you were able to celebrate your dad's birthday and have a great story for all of us.

jewgirl said...

I fucking love you, POTD. You are so funny! OMG. I was screaming while reading this post. You're Backdraft.

I'm so glad yas are all okay.

Melly/Melody/or Mel said...

Are you a fire sign by any chance? A Leo maybe?

Nice that you paid the bill. I am sure the restaurant didn't intend to have a fire.

I love the image of you pushing your folks out of the way after you paid the bill. Thanks for a great post!

Coaster Punchman said...

"We checked in on the bill and they knocked 75 dollars from the total for the inconvenience of having our lives endangered."

HA HA HA HA HA HA! That was funny, what you wrote!

Winter said...

Oh Dale.

Pezda's Ghost said...

Sounds like an exciting evening. Good that everyone is ok. We've just had a terrible, and crippling winter blizzard here, probably what you see on a regular basis in Canada.

Valerie said...

I'm thankful for the edit, cuz I was imagining an unattractive Chinese woman with very fair waxy skin.

You're lucky you got a $75 discount. I once had piece of metal in my soup at a Chinese restaurant and when I pointed it out to the waitress she looked down at it, took it from my fingers and walked away. No apology, no discount.

I'm going to use the "If I remember" line as much as possible from now on.

Dale said...

I've told my sister she's a moron and she finally agrees with me DistributorCap. Outside it is, you like marshmallows?

Let me rephrase that WP - I want to hear an audioclip of you singing that now.

Wild for a bunch of old folks anyway Tenacious S! It was more fun than I thought. Fire good!

Katie! And I didn't even mention the staff member holding open the door for everyone to leave trying to create a backdraft! I'm glad we're okay too.

Funnily enough, or not, I'm a water sign Melly!

Coaster Punchman, you'd think they'd have made it 80 in honour of the old man's age no?

Sigh, Winter.

It's been blizzardy here too Pezda's Ghost, if you need back up, let me know.

I hope you remember to 'if I remember' Valerie. Metal? Was the restaurant in a junkyard?

Tanya Espanya said...


Writeprocrastinator said...

"Let me rephrase that WP - I want to hear an audioclip of you singing that now."

Uhhhh, not gonna happen.

Dale said...

You know you're always last with me Tanya!

Chicken WP!