I love candles. I have candles covering virtually every surface in every room of our home.
I don’t light candles while my tugboat man is gone.
There’s a very good reason for this.
I almost burned our house down and my husband’s firefighting training is the only thing that averted disaster.
One very tranquil evening last spring after dinner, I lit every candle in the bathroom adjoining our bedroom and proceeded to take a leisurely shower. There were candles on the countertop, candles on the bamboo shelf above the toilet, and candles on another floor shelf unit.
Normally I extinguish them when I’m finished, but this time I didn’t because the room looked and smelled so lovely.
Wearing a black silk kimono and feeling quite frisky (if you know what I mean) I went out to the family room and snuggled up on the sofa to watch the Daily Show with a glass of merlot and hubs.
After a bit, he took the remote and muted the sound.
He cocked his head like he was listening for something (he looked very puppy-like and cute LOL) and said,
“Do you hear that?”
Me: “Hear what?”
Him: “I think I hear something in the bedroom, or wait, did you leave the water on?”
Me: “No, I didn’t. What do you hear?”
Him: “Do you smell anything?”
Me: “Nooo….not really, what—”
Suddenly, he takes off running toward the bathroom and I stand up and I swear, I’m totally paralyzed, I can’t move a muscle to follow him or anything. I’m not a real take charge kind of girl in any emergency. I’m the one whose limbs turn to stone. I don’t react. Don’t count on me.
So…the next thing I hear is a lot of yelling and things crashing, and for a split second I think someone broke in and they’re fighting. It was soooo crazy.
I’m still standing two rooms away and my feet are like in cement; I mean I know I should DO something, but I just can’t. I can’t even move to the phone to call 911 or anything.
Then I hear the shower being turned on and a sizzling sound, and I was finally able to triumph over my fears, and tiptoed toward the bathroom.
What I saw was a disaster. The bathroom was filled with smoke; smoke was beginning to fill the house (later we figured out that the smoke alarm’s battery had died.)
My personal fireman hero was soaking wet — apparently the noise I heard were his huge biceps ripping the bamboo shelf off the wall as it was engulfed in flames. What a hero! He had the presence of mind, not to mention the strength, to prevent a major tragedy.
As you might imagine, fires on boats are a potential catastrophe, and professional mariners constantly train and drill in the event of a fire in the engine room or anywhere else on board. I know that my mariner takes it very seriously, and I am SO glad.
Watching him in action was very reassuring (and VERY sexy).
Here’s what happened.
One of the candles was on the bottom shelf of the bamboo unit above the toilet and next to the shower. The heat from the flame ignited the shelf right above it, which also had a candle going, and that in turn ignited the shelf above that and finally the whole thing was ablaze with foot-high flames, searing the ceiling, coating it in a horrible black smoky sooty mess. The ceiling stayed too hot to touch for hours, and it was just plain luck that the attic didn’t explode in flames; it was that hot.
The burning bamboo set off little flaming arrows of fire all over the bathroom, burning the floor, the rug, and everything it touched. Cleaning the bathroom was a nightmare. There was congealed candle wax covering every surface, including the shower and the countertop, the sink, the mirror, and even the ceiling. It took forever to scrape it off.
The burnt bamboo shelf
This wasn’t my first brush with a candle-related disaster, however.
We have an entertainment unit in the family room that has beautiful glass shelves.
I lit a candle on the bottom shelf (déjà vu, right?) and left the room (déjà vu again, right?) and we heard a sound like an explosion, ran in, and found shattered glass everywhere. The shelf must have heated up and cracked. Wow. Everything on the shelf crashed and broke, too.
The replacement shelf had to be custom-made, and the expensive lesson learned that time was not to light any candles under glass shelves.
But I guess I didn’t learn the ENTIRE lesson or I surely wouldn’t have walked away from a roomful of candles!
I am ever so grateful that hubs did not bring up the previous incident as I felt bad enough without being reminded of my carelessness.
So…it’s no surprise that I avoid any candle lighting until my personal fireman is here.
Before he leaves to go out to sea, he forces me to perform –fire drills. (Head out of the gutter, people!) I think it’s more to make him feel better about leaving and hoping that I have the tools and knowledge to act appropriately in an emergency.
Well, that’s probably not going to happen.
The fire extinguisher is in the garage, and I know he’s shown me a zillion times how to make it work, but I don’t remember a single thing he says. Considering my response time isn’t so good, the darn thing is heavy and unwieldy and it’ll be next to impossible to react at all when my feet are pinned to the floor, unable to move — I guess I’ll have to be content with a picture of a candle until he comes home.