At the corner shop not so long ago, I got stuck behind a rather elderly gent trying to return a lighter.
The shop owner was trying to determine the reason for the return; was the lighter broken, he wanted to know.
Oh yes, definitely, the elderly man said, nodding vigorously and looking at me, drawing me in to the transaction.
The shop owner flicked the lighter wheel and up popped a flame, tall and strong.
The gent kept nodding, not at all fazed by this apparent indication of lighterly competence.
The shop owner tried the lighter a few more times and each time, the flame leapt up without hesitation.
The gent continued to nod, as if this proved his assertion, and refused to take it back when the shop keeper held it out.
Finally, in that irritated yet patient tone of voice common to parents and service workers, the shopkeeper asked, so, sir, what is the problem with it?
A look of consternation tightened the gents features as he said, the fire is defective.
The shopkeeper’s eyebrows popped up and he tossed me an appealing look. He clearly had not anticipated that answer, though why he’d expected sense at that point had me more surprised than the gent’s answer.
Turning back to the gent, the shopkeeper had to think for a moment before asking, uh, how?
The gent was glaring at the lighter. Nothing I light stays lit, he explained. The fire’s broken, nothing stays on fire.
The shopkeeper and I swap confused-amused looks and I could see the temptation rising within the shopkeeper to ask just what the heck the man was trying to light.
However, with a shrug, the shopkeeper tossed a new lighter at the man, who wandered away with a pleased smile.
I loved it. Defective fire…and an understanding of the world that can look at flames and items that fail to ignite, and blame the fire. There is soooo a story here. Someday.
In the meantime, I got the lighter off the shopkeeper and am pleased to report that it has brought its A game to all my flamey needs. Rather disappointing. Time to find some wet leaves or something so I too can experience the failure of fire.