You know those moments where an absolutely exquisite moment of silence descends upon a space before everything erupts into chaos all around you?

Rescued from the Fire

It was 1966. I was 21. I was new to California culture, having lived back East up until then. I had come to stay with my aunt and uncle in San Francisco after I divorced my first husband.

Eventually, I landed in Santa Cruz. Those were the hippy days — lots of pot and acid almost every day, UFO sightings (yes, we saw lots — and no, we weren’t high when we did see them), and the beginning of the rampant development of the crafts. That’s when I became a potter.

My BF at the time decided to introduce me to his favorite Japanese restaurant. I was excited — eating Japanese food back East wasn’t common, so I had no clue what I was getting into.

I met him and several of his close buddies at the restaurant, where he had reserved one of those fancy private, sit-on-the-floor-under-a-low-table rooms.

All was going fine — we had some lovely miso soup, some shredded pickled veggies, and a bit of tempura appetizer …

…when in came this freaking enormous platter of sushi and sashimi, with garlands of greens and a few lumps of finely-shredded mild white radish, piles of thinly sliced pickled ginger, and seaweeds of various kinds.

Now this I could enjoy! I love seafood! My family lived on the coast and had all sorts of great fish, clams and other underwater delicacies all the time. The spread on the platter looked absolutely divine.

The only thing that disturbed me was that there was only a couple of teeny-weeny piles of guacamole, one at each end of the platter.

Looking surreptitiously at the others and thinking to myself,
“I’m so hungry, I’m gonna grab one before anyone else can get it!”

I stabbed one of the wee green piles — which had obviously been squirted out of one of those cake decorator tubes — how weird was that! — I mean, who makes tiny piles of decorated avocado? — and hastily plopped the whole thing right into my mouth.

You know those moments where an absolutely exquisite moment of silence descends upon a space before everything erupts into chaos all around you?

Yeah. That.

Everyone around the table gasped.

They dropped their chopsticks, spurted their miso soup, halted talk mid-sentence — as I, wasabi-virgin that I was, felt my the lining of my mouth rip apart and explode in gouts of unimaginable fire and brimstone.

As if from an odd distance, I watched as my nose replicated a fire-eating dragon, spewing liquid lava from both nostrils, with accompanying rivers of sweat spontaneously springing out of every last one of my pores.

Oh — but of course I had to Maintain, right?

Even as I realized that I had made a Mt. Everest-size mistake, I knew I had to act as if I had done this on purpose!

I was 21. Cool, and hip. Right?

I smiled (grimaced) and closed my mouth (scorched lips), as the magma-like substance devoured my tongue, engulfed it in invisible flames, seared my throat and incinerated its way all the way down to my belly.

I smiled as each person watched me, hour-by-hour as the century/seconds passed, as I held my ‘cool’ and acted as if nothing was wrong.

As soon as the first person broke the spell, gasping, “I can’t believe she just did that,” under his breath to his neighbor, I launched my body out of my chair and ran to the loo, where I’m sure I’d fallen into some kind of time portal, because I know I spent at least a week washing my poor mouth out.

No one said a thing when I came back to the table. They had kindly saved some of everything for me, and graced me with not saying a single thing about what had happened.

On the way home though… Oh the roasting!

And wouldn’t you know, if there was only one kind of food left on the planet, I’d choose Japanese!

So of course, fully fed and belly-happy, I could keep right on keeping on, no matter what.


Thanks so much for reading my story. I hope it lit you up. Or maybe it inspired you, or made you curious, or gave you a new perspective with which to view and appreciate your own life. Or maybe take on a new exciting scary fun adventure! That’s my wish.



Image: RESCUED from the FIRE
© Angela Treat Lyon 2022
text © Angela Treat Lyon 2023

If you’d like a print of Rescued from the Fire, please contact me.

This is an enhanced version of the same story in my book, INSIDE SECRETS: Stories I’ve Never Told Anyone — Volume III — Adventures. You can get the whole ebook at atlyon.gumroad.com, or in print on amazon.


The art that saved my life:
Original paintings, drawings, and prints: LyonArtandDesign.com
Original paintings and stone sculpture: AngelaTreatLyonART.com

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