Went to the L.A. Fire Department downtown to get a permit to have candles at my wedding reception. Nobody seemed to know where we should go. We ended up traversing three sides of the Fire Department's floor in the City Hall building before enough bored city employees could direct me to the right spot. It wasn't an office, but a collection of cubes under a sign suspended by chains from the seventies era drop down ceiling. It said "Public Affairs" or some such crap.

I wish they had told us before we made the hour long trip that the tip of the flame had to be no less than 2 inches below the rim of the candle container. It would have saved us a lot of time and trouble. There were some other equally restrictive rules. It's OK to have one candle if it meets specifications, but if you want more than one per table, each candle must be affixed to a common base. The table itself doesn't count.

We took the xeroxed sheets detailing the pertinent codes. They really ought to put this up online somewhere. But I doubt they've heard of the internet at the L.A. Fire Department offices -- they look stuck in time like insects in amber, only it's the walls and ceiling that are yellow.

On the way home, I cursed them. But they are just mindliess drones moving under the chemical influence of a greater organism, The State. I'm sure some decades ago, somebody's little girl got burned up at a reception or graduation party because a candle was knocked over. That's a tragedy. Then when the city was sued, they were forced in self-defense to pass The Code that tells me I can't have candles at my wedding reception. I feel sorry for the little girl and her family, really I do, but I doubt she cares about me, my candles or my reception.