Sunday, November 12, 2006

Candle Hoarding: What Is My Problem?

A few days ago, I was seduced by marketing mumbo-jumbo and an appeal to my limbic system into buying a scented Feng Shui candle at Fred Meyer. The candle is supposed to bring me good fortune and creativity if I burn it while I’m facing southeast or some such bull crap. I looked at the little formula and made the calculations with my birth year as required. It told me to buy the “Metal” candle. Metal smelled icky, so I just went ahead and bought the one with the most pleasant scent (“Earth,” if you must know).

I find it a bit difficult to walk past candle aisles in places like Freddie’s and Target without at least buying myself a token votive as a little treat. They’re so cheap and they smell so good! I always think I’m going to go right home, light the candle, and bliss out, but somehow I never do. Candles sit in the hall closet for a couple of years before I am able to feel it might be OK to light one up.

I blame Wicks ‘n’ Sticks* for this candle-hoarding hang-up of mine. Back when I was in high school, there was nothing I enjoyed more than an expedition to Woodfield Mall—one of the biggest malls in America and Illinois’s biggest tourist attraction (depressing!). My first stops was always Wicks ‘n’ Sticks. As I remember it, there were candles stacked floor to ceiling. They had a lot of toadstool and owl candles. But what they had even more of were these LOTRish candles (wizards, trolls, pixies, gnomes, elves, dwarves, wood nymphs). The wick always stuck out of the top of the head. Plus, they’d all been dipped in polyurethane or some other shiny clear coating. They didn’t even look like proper candles. And I’m willing to bet they were plenty toxic.

I was not attracted to the LOTRish candles at all except, perhaps, in a sort of horribly fascinated way. Like who’s going to pay $49.99 for a three-foot-tall wizard candle, light the top of its wizard hat, and then gleefully watch the flame creep down until the head was on fire? John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer, that's who! It gave me the willies to look at those candles and think about who might be buying them.

I did, however, pony up for a modest $2.99 glazed toadstool, which I deemed “too nice” to burn. Heck. It was an objet d’art, what with that gleaming finish and all! I displayed it on this knick-knack shelf I had in my bedroom. It sat on that shelf—the shiny surface getting clouded over with dust—all through my college career. It may still be in my dad’s house somewhere.

And here I am decades later, still hoarding candles.

*I’m astonished the stores still exist. They seem to have jettisoned the wizards and trolls, thankfully.

Today’s Random NaBloPoMo blog: At Sixes & Sevens…


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