It was Saturday evening, eight days after we had met. Marylou had already had some commitment for the preceding night, so we'd settled on this night for our first "official" date.
I was to take her to dinner at a cozy little restaurant not far from where she lived. I had never been to the restaurant but she had, and when she suggested it she told me it would be "comfortable," one of the best judgments I've encountered.
It was small but not tiny. We were seated in a booth in an area just dark enough to give the illusion of privacy, an illusion furthered by the other patrons. My recollection is that they were all or mostly all other couples, and pretty much involved with each other, so there was not much noise.
Menus arrived with the first round of drinks, and were promptly ignored. We chattered away, as comfortable with each other as we had been on the night we met. We were both smokers, and after a couple of cigarettes and just as the drinks were about to vanish completely, our waitress returned. No, sorry, we haven't even looked yet. But if you'll bring us two more drinks we will promise to do it now.
I have no recollection of what we ate, only a lingering impression that it was very good. But we were having a marvelous time and the food would have had to be atrocious to spoil things. The company was the most important thing about this meal, and once again there was laughter and contentment.
After dinner we had coffee, followed by a third and final round of drinks. I lit a cigarette and Marylou indicated that I should light one for her too. I gave her the first and got another out of the pack. During the lighting of one of these cigarettes, I don't know which, the front of my hair caught fire.
Well, I was looking at Marylou, not a mirror, and *eye* certainly didn't know about it. But soon I got the first tentative whiffs of the foul odor of burning hair. At the same time I felt a certain unexplained and increasingly uncomfortable warmth just above my forehead. I'm Mr. Cool, that's who I am.
Putting two and two together at last, I reached up and patted out the fire.
"Did you know my hair was on fire?"
"Well, why didn't you tell me?"
"I don't know. I thought it was part of your act."
Even today, more than thirty-five years later, I don't quite understand that, but I have a vague feeling that it is very funny.
And speaking of funny - but this time funny peculiar, not funny ha ha - I have several times told two stories to small groups of people: this story and the coat closet story. Without exception, the men have found the coat closet incident funnier and the women have found the hair on fire incident funnier. I'm not sure what that says.
NEXT - MARYLOU: MEETING MOM