Rob Taylor: Candlepower " My introduction to the lunatic fringe
December 31, 2007
It began when I overheard a co-worker divulge that she forked out $250 at a candle party over the weekend.
Somehow, I quelled the beast within me that wanted to react as men often do – speaking before thinking.
She’s single, I reminded myself. At least she isn’t sneaking behind a husband’s back, I thought. Still, $250 on candles? It bordered on insanity. No doubt astronauts can identify her house from space when she’s in the lighting mood.
I recognized her voice; it was Granby’s own Brenda Rust. Her graduation picture still hangs on the walls of Middle Park High School – class of ’77, I think. Brenda’s other vice is cats, though she seems to have that one (the feline-affective cat disorder) under control. Like Noah, she owns just two kitties. But the candle thing … I had no idea.
Prior to her admission – before I was exposed to the lunatic female fringe at the office – I would have guessed that “majestic sunrise” was a reference to nature. But I was naïve about the flippant name-calling practices of the candle industry ” combining wax, perfume and Monet-like titles.
Hundreds of dollars spent on candles with ridiculous names. I just couldn’t let it go. Several days later, I found myself picking up candles at the grocery store, taking a whiff and trying to christen them accurately based on their smell. Time and again, what I thought should be called “Grandma Emptied the Perfume Bottle” was improperly labeled something like “Heirloom Pearls.”
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My newfound hobby surfaced one afternoon while I was working on a project with Susan McNamee, Brenda’s boss. While waiting for her computer to process, I picked up the white candle – which I later discovered was called “Cotton” – on her desk and blurted out the first thing that came to mind.
“Hotel bed sheets,” I announced without thinking.
The look on her face was Richard Nixon-esque ” an ocular explosion unmatched since Watergate. I cringed, prepping myself for the worst, but she said nothing … letting me hang.
Until that moment, we had kept things on a professional level – discussing the latest techno-gadgets and the supremacy of Hewlett-Packard products. But hotel bed sheets suddenly changed everything. We were in uncharted waters, leaving her paralyzed and me scrambling.
The heat of the silence tested the limits of my deodorant and highlighted the need for fast and brilliant words. Hotel bed sheets, I repeated the foible in my mind. Now there’s a picture, you idiot. Quick, say something. Save yourself.
“Clean ones,” I nearly shouted.
Her laughter resonated throughout the building, causing a groundswell of inquiries from curious co-workers. By the end of the day, my reputation was gone. Fortunately, she didn’t sue for stupidity, despite having a strong case.
My candle-naming fling came to an abrupt end that day. Truth be told ” for a short while, I did inhale.
Next time you check into a hotel room, throw back the comforter and take a whiff of those hotel sheets – clean ones – if you dare. I think you will discover that I could have been the Ralph Nader of the candle industry ” serving humanity with an honest nose.
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