'Tis not quite yet the season to be jolly. But 'tis plainly the season to be silly. Which is precisely what some Good Time Charlies out in Kensington did last week. Luckily, a Clear Thinking Mike was on hand to keep a bad situation from getting worse.

Apparently, there are Good Time Charlies who think that leaves are not to be admired, or collected, or left alone in neat piles. They think leaves are to be set afire. So some Kensington Charlies found a few mounds of leaves in the 3900 block of Washington Street and torched them.

The burning leaves ignited other leaves, which ignited others, and still others. Pretty soon, every leaf on the whole block was afire. It wasn't long before a parked car belonging to a Washington Street resident went up in flames. By the time the fire department got there, it was a total loss.

More than a dozen cars were parked on the block at the time. Most of them probably would have been damaged or destroyed by the same flames if Mike Hardin hadn't played some heads-up ball.

Mike is the Post carrier on that block. He was preparing his papers for delivery at about 5 a.m. when he noticed the flames. He also noticed the imminent danger to the parked vehicles.

So Mike went door to door, waking up people and warning them. As a result, reports Laura Canaan, a resident of the block, only one car was destroyed, instead of a boatload.

Nice work, Mike. As for the Good Time Charlies, they need a little lecture from Smokey the Bear.

Beverly Statler of Beltsville wandered into a carryout near Dupont Circle the other day and ordered a ham sandwich on rye, with onions, to go.

The counter clerk said she didn't think they had any onions. She went to check. While she was still checking, the manager (who was working the cash register) announced that a plain ham on rye was ready to be paid for.

Beverly told the manager that she had wanted onions on the sandwich. He said the restaurant does not carry onions "because people in Washington are very conscious of their breath and do not eat onions."

That was big news to Beverly, who has been living here (and eating onions here) since 1955. She wondered what I thought of this epic affair.

First of all, Beverly, I think the manager must be from Pluto, not Dupont Circle. It is a crime against nature, decency and the Almighty to run a sandwich shop and not stock onions. If this manager doubts it, I refer him to the nearest Roy Rogers. There, occupying large quantities of space at the Fixins Bar, are onions. Hundreds of onions. They wouldn't be there if people didn't like them.

Second, the guy's reasoning is, if you'll pardon the expression, out to lunch. People in Washington are conscious of their breath. But onion odor can be overcome by many methods -- mints, mouthwash and toothpaste, to name just three.

You want my hunch, Beverly?

I think the guy is a closet crier.

I think he's one of those people who cries whenever he cuts open an onion, and doesn't want to admit it. He doesn't stock onions so his eyes won't do a Niagara on him.

If I'm right, the guy needs help, not scorn. Let's give it to him. Anyone know a surefire way to avoid "onion tears"? Better that than hearing him slander Washington, and 32-year Washingtonians.

"Thought I would let you know about a recent 'two-fer,' " writes John F. Jones of Southwest.

"While checking out through the express lane of a local supermarket, the cashier in the adjoining lane was lecturing a customer. She let the young man go through although he had too many items.

"He and I left the store at the same time, and I couldn't help noticing where he had parked.

"You guessed it.

"In a handicapped space -- although he did not have the auto tags for it."

Great Moments in Radio, courtesy of John A. Guinan of Kensington, who says he heard it on a local station:

"The present temperature at Washington National Airport is now currently 48 degrees."

Redundancy, you used to settle for simple duplication. Now you're up to triples!

Subdivisions, please copy. John Fenn has invented a few street names that reflect suburban life as it really is.

Street for henpecked husbands: Haviture Way.

Street of retirees: Ovida Hill.

Street where teen-agers rendezvous: Stoppen Park.

Street where imbibers live: One Forda Road.

Street where tax collectors live: Eventue Alley.