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Dating blog #4: Burn Me Once Shame On You. Burn Me Twice Shame On Me!

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Last month, I had a date with this incredibly handsome, funny and intelligent firefighter named Chris, whose body was the stuff that the "Chicago Hunk Firefighter" calendars were made of. You know what I'm talking about, right? The calendars with the sexy, shirtless firefighters holding puppies or leaning up against the fire trucks? He was in the 2007 edition. Besides him being universally handsome, he was incredibly charming and charismatic as well. We went to South Water Kitchen for lunch and had the most amazing time. There was not a dull moment in our conversation and the man laughed at all of my jokes. What more could a girl ask for? I walked away floating on cloud 9.

Flash forward two days. It's a Sunday afternoon and I am having brunch in the Gold Coast with my newest option, who we will call "Pyro." It was our first date and we had an okay time, if you overlook that he was rude to the waitress and didn't use his inside voice throughout the entire meal. Looking back on it, I'm not entirely sure why I decided to continue the date. Maybe I did it for the story? Maybe I was feeling rarely optimistic and thought it would get better? Who knows really, but I should have stopped after he checked out the waitresses bum.

It had just snowed a good 4 inches (the familiar fury that is Chicago winter) and decided it might be fun to go back to his place and watch a movie, as he lived right around the corner. Now, I know what you're thinking, "This girl just went back to a stranger's apartment? Is she crazy? Does she have a death wish? Is she a whore?" To which I would answer, "yes, to all of the above minus the death wish." In my defense he lured me in with promises of a fireplace, a big cozy blanket and hot cocoa.

Once inside, he popped in Anchorman and we snuggled into his overstuffed leather sofa. Halfway through the movie, he gets up to try and build a fire. "Try" being the operative word here. This man was obviously never a boy scout. For the next 20 minutes, I watch him try to make this tiny fire grow into one that is warm enough to take the chill out of something other than an ant. Finally, it seemed as if he had gotten the fire to where he wanted it and came over to settle back into the sofa. Within 15 minutes, I turn to him and ask, "Is it really smoky in here or am I on glue?" As if on cue, we both look over at the fireplace and that small fire has now turned into a raging one! He turns back to me and instructs me to go downstairs, grab the cat, and open all of the windows. Meanwhile, I'm thinking, "No way dude. I hate cats and am highly allergic to them. I already can't breathe because of all of the smoke. What makes you think I'm going to pick up your stupid cat?" So, I go downstairs and open the windows as instructed. The cat escapes. The next thing you, know I see him running down the street barefoot (need I remind you that it was freezing outside and had just snowed) to the Walgreens and returns carrying a fire extinguisher in one arm and the cat in the other.

I'm panicking. Not only do I get busted for letting the cat out of the house, but by the frantic look on that man's face as he ran back towards the house with the fire extinguisher, made me think that the entire house was going to go burn down with me in it!

After a couple of minutes of listening to him swear and stumble around upstairs, he tells me it's safe to come up. I climb the stairs to find about 3 inches of soot covering his entire floor, his new flat screen TV, his leather sofas, and his stereo system. It looked as if it had snowed in his apartment. I thought the worst of it was over since all of the flames were extinguished. I was wrong.

A minute later, we hear fire engines blaring down the street, and people were gathering outside of the building. Some good Samaritan must have called the fire department. The first firefighter bursts through the door, asks where the fire is and proceeds to inspect the damage. The second firefighter through the door asks Pyro a laundry list of questions about the fire and how it started. The third firefighter through the door looks at me and says, "Gena? Is that you?" You guessed it! It was the hunky calendar man of my dreams coming to my rescue, and there I was with Pyro, on a date from hell. Literally--there were flames. Maybe it was the smoke inhalation, maybe it was because Pyro had a receding hairline and was nowhere near as attractive as the firefighter, but I got so flustered, I pretended that it wasn't me and left without saying goodbye to either one.

The firefighter called me a few times after that and left messages about not understanding the situation he had walked in on, and I really should have returned his calls, but I was just too embarrassed at the time and didn't want to have to explain myself. That was certainly a missed opportunity, and now, every time I walk by a fire station, I feel compelled to sneak a peak and see if fate will intervene, and I will find him sitting there in all of his delicious glory, holding that puppy from the calendar.