By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"It's a little late to be worried about that," answered one of the women in the party as we took our leave.
Eager to salvage something from the evening, I asked the bartender for a book of matches. Barely acknowledging me, he grunted something, then turned around. Wondering if he'd actually heard me, I watched in astonishment as he filled a red Chasen's doggy bag with napkins, swizzle sticks and matches. Could it be he was related to the kindhearted barkeep in the Shirley Temple story? He turned around, started carrying the bag toward me--and suddenly handed it to a taut-faced matron I'd seen earlier. As she fawned over the bag, he grunted again, then tossed the matches in my direction. Handling the bittersweet souvenir like a rare artifact, I slunk out of Chasen's.
Flash forward one week. After returning to Phoenix, I receive a call from this newspaper's art director, who wants to use the matchbook cover as a visual element in this story's layout. Can I take the matches to the photographer's studio?
No problem, I answer, and I deliver the matches to the photographer. But before I even leave the studio, the matches have mysteriously disappeared from the counter. Baffled, the photographer assures me that they'll turn up.
The next day, I receive the bad news. Apologizing profusely, the photographer announces that he's figured out what happened to the matches. Based on certain evidence distributed across the backyard, it appears his dog has eaten the irreplaceable keepsake.
Somehow, I am not surprised. For the second time in a week, I felt thoroughly chasened.