“Do not be too timid or squeamish in your actions. All life is an experiment.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
The other day, Eve, my scene partner, told me that she used to perform fire art.
“What’s fire art?” I asked.
“You know, like breathing fire and everything?”
“You do that?”
“Well, I’ve done it at a few clubs downtown. I also used to be in the circus.”
“You’re shitting me!”
“I shit you not. I have pictures. Do you want to see?”
She got out the pictures. Sure enough, there she was, standing on top of a bar, breathing fire.
“I don’t do it as often as I used to do it because the older I get, the more I value my life.” she said.
“Why? Is it dangerous?”
She lit a cigarette and said, “No. It’s really simple, actually. It all has to do with air currents. The problem with it being so simple though is that it’s very easy to become careless. Not only that, but the chemicals that you’re breathing in are really bad for you.”
“Umm…you’re kind of smoking a cigarette right now.”
“Oh yeah. Ha! Ha!”
I asked her if she ever got hurt, and she said that, one time, when she was performing in a club downtown, she wasn’t wearing a fireproof costume, and it resulted in her running into the audience with her shirt on fire: “I immediately took off my shirt and made some guy in the front row give me his t-shirt.” Then she laughed and said,”Of course, he was a middle-aged, balding fat man. The really ironic part is that a couple weeks later, I got burned really badly in a cooking accident.” She had been preparing dulce beleche, a Spanish dish involving condensed milk. She was pouring the milk into a pan on the stove, when it suddenly exploded. Feeling sticky, she got into the shower. In college, Eve minored in dermatology, so when the skin on her arms started to come off in the shower, she knew that that wasn’t normal. “This was a case of karma,” she said, “It’s complicated to try to explain why, but I was supposed to get burned on stage that one night. The night where I took my shirt off? I was supposed to get burned. And since I didn’t, I had this cooking accident.”
“So it’s just like Final Destination.” I said.
Trying to display one upmanship, I said, “Oh yeah? Well, I once had heartburn.”
“Never mind. Do you know how to swallow fire?”
“Yeah. I know how to both swallow fire and spit it back out. If you want, I can teach you how.”
“I can teach you everything you need to know in two afternoons.”
That voice inside of my head that controls common sense and rational thought told me to say no. But I have always made it a point to go through life ignoring that voice. Shit. Being taught how to breathe fire from a trained professional is far less dangerous than jumping into the Atlantic Ocean in November with the Coney Island Polar Bear Club, and I’ve already done that. Besides, I’m going to breathe fire for the same reason that I do pretty much everything else in life: it will be a great way to meet women. And that’s why, when I learn how to do my fire tricks, I won’t be doing them in Central Park, but at Down The Hatch. I’ll pretend to do a shot, and then I’ll breathe fire and shout, “Oh my God! That was hot! Owen, what did you put in that thing?” The problem, of course, is that Down The Hatch has really low ceilings.
If I can avoid setting Down The Hatch on fire, this is an enterprise worth pursuing. If not, I’ll have to take my act down to The Four Faced Liar.
cc: Eve 6
Earth, Wind & Fire
Puff The Magic Dragon
May 7, 2006