If Marie’s date had been more charming, funny, maybe less self-centered, she might have been tempted to order a second martini and linger. Instead she invented a home life that included a parakeet and a clever cat and begged off. If she had been in a rush to return to her empty apartment, Marie probably wouldn’t have noticed the slip of smoke wafting from her strange neighbor’s door. She knocked on his door until her knuckles turned red and then dialed 911. Once the fire was extinguished, Marie, the hero(ine) of the evening, was allowed inside. On the stove top, inside a stainless steel pot, Marie found the charred remains of what looked like cassoulet. Parked suspiciously beside it was the hefty Sunday Times. Marie had to wonder why a cook with the chops to cook something as sophisticated as cassoulet would chose a flimsy pot guaranteed to burn and then “accidentally” leave dry kindling beside it.