So, last week, lonely ladies all over New York City let out a collective sigh of disappointment when it was revealed that the FDNY calendar will be no more after 2008 (I actually saw some when I was at Barnes & Noble this weekend…so, tally ho, my sisters…)
However, the *interesting* part (and why I’m blogging about it in the first place) is that – as the Daily News attests – young Michael Biserta is a second-year firefighter at Ladder 131 in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Now, Ladder 131 and I go way back. In fact, I used to live very close to that fire station (and a garbage processing facility…and an alley frequented by truck drivers and crackheads…). And one night when I was living in those deplorable conditions, I was trying to make two coffee cakes. You may get bored here if you’ve read my blog religiously and recall my Top 10 Baking Crises, but I had a coworker whose favorite thing in the world was my sour cream coffee cake with pears and pecans and he was heading off to boot camp, so I wanted to do something nice before he departed. However, whenever I bring stuff into work, I rarely eat it myself…given all the hubbub I suppose there’s too much to do otherwise…so…this time I decided that I wanted to make a second one to leave at home.
This coworker had going away drinks after work…and by the time that was over, the grocery store in my neighborhood was closed, so I had to go elsewhere…so it was pretty late by the time I got down to coffeecake-making. And the thing about the sour cream coffee cake with pears and pecans is that it has two layers and you sort of have to eyeball ’em. I had two pans of different sizes…so I did my best to try to evenly distribute the layers given the size of each pan…but I guess I misjudged one of them because it overflowed and leaked onto the bottom of my oven and as I was merrily folding laundry downstairs, the fire alarm went off. I ran upstairs and opened windows and tried to fan all the smoke out when our phone rang…it was the alarm company. I told them it was an accident – I had just burned coffeecake and that everything was fine. And then I heard sirens.
“Oh no! They’re not coming here, are they?” I asked.
The woman on the other end of the line said, “Ma’am, there’s no way I can cancel a call like this.”
And so I ran downstairs in my pajamas and opened the door…and outside of my apartment were two fire trucks and no less than a dozen firemen. One was at the hydrant, getting ready to attach the hose…another was barking orders to the rest of them. I began apologizing profusely.
“It was just an accident! I’m so sorry!”
Nevertheless, about half a dozen of them came into my apartment and helped open windows and the like.
“Don’t worry,” one of them said, “I burn French toast all the time.”
I told them my coffeecake only needed a few more minutes and then I would gladly give it to them. Sadly, they declined and went on their way.
It was around Thanksgiving and so I tried to make it up to them later by baking a pumpkin and a pecan pie…however, when I arrived at the fire house, I couldn’t figure out where the front door was and the big garage door-things weren’t open…and I had to get to work…so eventually I had to give up and they never knew I baked them Thanksgiving pies.
I used to see them at the grocery store on Saturday mornings sometimes though…and one would always smile (knowingly?) and wave.
Now, this was long before Mr. Biserta’s time in Red Hook…in fact, he may very well have been “going wild” in Florida at the time. However, I’m sure at least one of his brethren who is now teasing him relentlessly is one of the same who was at my apartment that night and saw me red-faced in the doorway, apologizing profusely.