Don’t put your jacket on a tea light

I don’t know when I became the type of person who thinks it’s charming to take photos of alcoholic beverages and text them to friends, but I did. And it has to stop. I say this because shortly after taking a photo of a half pint of Guinness a few nights ago, a bartender came over to my table and very calmly said, “Your jacket is on fire.”

For the record, he was wrong. My jacket was not on fire. My friend, Richard, however – well his jacket was very much on fire.

We handled this situation in very different ways. I screamed, leapt from my seat, and fanned my own face. He, on the other hand, had the good sense to knock what was left of his windbreaker to the floor and stomp the fire out before it had a chance to spread to the curtains.

“I think I did that,” I told him once the smoke cleared. “I think I put your jacket on the tea light.”

I wasn’t certain, but I vaguely remembered moving the jacket out of the way while taking the photo. I figured that when I put it back, it was too close to the candle. At the very least, it sounded like something I would do. In fact, I once did the exact same thing with a bouquet of flowers at my senior prom.

Richard took it all in stride. But he did point out that earlier in the day, while we were on a hike, an older woman slipped on the path and rolled partway down a cliffside. Thankfully she got snared on some particularly thick picker bushes that kept her from going very far. Richard had to climb down to haul her back up and I, very helpfully, reminded him not to fall.

These things don’t happen when I’m not around. At least, that’s what Richard told me as he swept the ashes from his windbreaker into a pile on the floor. And the tone he used made it very clear that this was not a good thing, even if he did collect a story or two along the way.

But while I was perfectly willing to accept responsibility for the tea light, I refused to be brought down by a woman with an artificial knee who insisted on talking a walk on a cliff the day after Ireland had torrential downpours.

“That’s not my fault! That’s just a coincidence. An unfortunate coincidence!” I told him. “And what about that time you lost your passport in Peru? I had nothing to do with that either!”

“Exactly,” he said. “You were in Peru!”

And I’ll admit it’s hard to argue with logic like that. Even if he had no business putting his passport in a pair of sweatpants or keeping his jacket on a table in the first place, I’m the common denominator.

“I hope you’re not one of those people who has bad things happen in threes,” Richard’s friend said to me. “I might be safer outside.”

But it was fine. We passed the next two days in Northern Ireland without any issues. Until this evening, that is – when Richard let me know that shortly after dropping me off at the train station, he went to soccer practice, where he promptly cracked skulls with another player and got a concussion.

I didn’t remind him of the curse of the threes. Nor did I mention that a closer inspection of my photos on the night of the jacket fire clearly shows his windbreaker in the background, perched near tea light and, importantly, out of my reach. Maybe I had actually moved it, though the picture suggests otherwise.

But I’ll continue to let him think I’m bad luck. He has a better chance of breaking his own that way.

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