Episode Five: Bruno and Alice: A Love Story in Twelve Parts About Seniors and Safety – The fires of love

Let's face it, no matter how old you get, dating takes courage. Even in your seventies and eighties, despite the fact that you don't have to worry about your skin breaking out before a date, there are plenty of things to ruin a perfectly good evening.

One night last September, I was invited over for dinner to the apartment of the woman I was falling in love with. It was only our third date, but I was hoping that something big was going to come of it. "Snow on the roof, fire in the furnace" and all that kind of thing.

When I arrived, she was dressed in a comfortable gown, some kind of caftan, a cotton thing with wide sleeves. She looked fabulous. I'm a sculptor by hobby, clay and bronze, and I had brought her a small piece as a present. It was just a head of a woman, but it had plenty of personality and she loved it. She invited me into the kitchen where dinner was well under way. Behind the stove was a shelf with flowers, which she pushed aside to make room for my sculpture. There, she told me, she would be able to see it every time she cooked.

Leaning forward to straighten it, Alice kind of hovered over the stove. The sleeve of her gown touched an element and we soon discovered that cotton is not what you would call fire-retardant. Her sleeve burst into flame.

Without thinking about it at all, I grabbed her and pushed her over to the sink. I turned on the tap and used the flexible nozzle to spray her with water and put out the flames. Actually, I sprayed her a lot. "Hosed her down," you might say. Instead of being grateful (which someone careless enough to wear loose clothing while cooking should have been), she was furious.

Since then, I've tried to give her a few fire safety tips, even the old "stop, drop and roll" lecture, but I don't think she's listening. More than once she's asked if I've joined the volunteer fire department yet and, when she's being really snide, she stills calls me "Sparky." She's obviously crazy about me.

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