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Burning Chemistry

Firefighter Jim FanningBack in April, I promised to tell you more about Jim, a Berkeley firefighter I bought a date with at live auction for the benefit of the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation. I went into it with the intention of buying myself an adventure and hopefully reporting back about an interesting person doing very important work for our cities- I was not disappointed.

However, I am prudishly and proudly reporting that most of the events that happened on the purple-interiored bus with a dancing pole in the middle of it (the date was an afternoon of wine tasting in the Central Valley with the firefighters and their dates present) will become memories for those of us who were on the bus (until someone besides me publishes it).

What is it that causes married gal to put up hundreds of dollars for an afternoon with a bachelor fireman? Wild woman impulse? Chemistry? Maybe. I was definitely attracted by the adventure and blogaliciousness. Of course, now the Web 2.0 world has placed mitigating factors in my life and the blogaliciousness of my afternoon with Jim is now dividable by my Googliciousness, leaving me with a reduced quotient from which to publicly document the interesting tidbits.

The conversation started with Jim's first words: "I've read your blog." Always a heart stopper. I go all ovine whenever I hear those words. I try to keep this personal-in the truest definition of a blog (before it got taken over by millions and co-opted into yet another exploitable medium). I focus on my passions and giving a voice to things that need amplifying- with widely varying degrees of factual accuracy, success and/or entertainment. But because I rant now and again, I still get shy when readers reveal themselves to me in person. "What you said was very nice."

The following data was gathered under the influence of about a glass and a half of wine/champagne (my limit). I learned a lot about Jim but I found myself humbly inspired by him because it was clear that he was devoted to helping others, both in his work as well as through philanthropy.

Age: 37, turning 38 September 21st.

Profession: City of Berkeley firefighter

Turn on Quality: Subtle Virginia accent (for those of you that fall for sound)

Raised in: Rural Virginia, in Appalachia

Why Firefighting: His Dad was one. He also says, "There's a certain unh [masculine fulfillment] that comes from going to the source of a fire and putting it out." I really wanted to know what made him tick about being a firefighter and he shared a few of the horror stories of what firefighters experience and have to do in the line of duty. The emotional training behind it all is the ability to shut off emotion "like a switch," in order to handle certain situations. He shared a caricature of what it's like to watch death close in on people's lives (burns, smoke inhalation, suffocation). Sometimes death is also untimely, such as when children die from freak accidents.

Hobbies: Abalone diving, fish hunting, air sports, water sports, Candice his bike.

Seeking: A brunette lady, semi to fully athletic, but most of all--adventurous.

Loves: Dark chocolate, dark red wine, deep, dark stuff

Revealing Tidbit from the Past: Said he spent an afternoon once getting bought drinks by a bunch of German biker guys and had a wonderful time. At the end, he politely thanked them for a good time and their kindnesses.

Sounds He Surrounds Himself With: Owns all Dead Can Dance albums; seems to have a passion for jazz/blues. Very fond of Bon Iver right now.

Favorite Thing He Said That (When Taken Out of Context)Paints An Inaccurate Picture: "I know you're married, but we can do this." It was actually said in contrast to the alcohol-induced fun happening for others on the bus.

Favorite Quote of the Afternoon About His Profession: "The thing about firefighters is- we're all little Cro-Mags with laptops and PDAs and shit."

Does Not Respond Well To: Untidy living spaces.

Bonus Points: Laughed at my jokes and creativity. Has already responded back to my e-mail. Much prefers a home be immaculate.

Spooky Coincidence/Possible Subculture Discovery: Jim is a licensed paramedic, likes to rock climb and in the past 8 years has learned to appreciate bluegrass music again (he grew up disliking it). Yeah, laugh it up Universe! And network engineers love to knit and bake.

Artistic Assets: Plays harmonica, pianist by ear, beautiful artistic hands that are painfully strong. They don't appear as if they have the grip that they actually do!

Projected Achilles Heel: Relentless flirt; likes variety. Will probably read this and flame me. Well, don't keep your opinion private Baby! ;)

Whimsical Question: Do you still get calls for the cat in the tree? "Absolutely. We're not supposed to answer them, but we do."

I'm not a bike chic, but I can sure appreciate a gorgeous vehicle like this one. He calls her Candice.

Jim Fanning, firefighter and his ride (motorcycle)

Jim Fanning, firefighter and pals

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