Following My Nose to a Non-Scented Candle

I Know It’s Out There Somewhere!

I just spent the better part of an entire day on a quest that to most logical thinking adults would be a complete and total waste of time.  I respectfully disagree.

Here’s the setup:  We’ve invited two couples over for dinner on Saturday night, and afterward we’re going to play games (guys vs. girls, of course – go xx chromosomes!)  So anyway, in order to leave plenty of time for Cranium and Charades, I’m serving lasagna because it’s something I can make ahead of time.

Unfortunately I’ve run into a bit of a problem – not with the menu, but with my table setting.  You see yesterday I found this terrific wrought iron centerpiece that holds five pillar candles and has a basket thingy as a base.  The photo on the box it came in showed the basket part filled with some goofy looking raffia balls, but I decided instead to fill it with an assortment of ripe tomatoes and yellow and red peppers, which will go perfectly with my pottery and will also enhance my Italian meal theme (think: "Food Network meets HGTV”).  So basically all I need are five bright yellow and/or red short pillar candles.  Sounds easy enough, right?

Wrong.  It’s not that I can’t find candles.  Au contraire.  Today I found oodles of them.  Tall candles, short candles, fat candles, bumpy candles, candles shaped like seashells and saxophones and soccer balls.  The trouble is, every one of them was – as my husband calls them – the "smelly” kind.  This wouldn’t be any big deal, except for the fact that I don’t want my lasagna to smell like a vanilla pound cake or lemon sassafras tea – or for that matter like grass clippings or mimeograph ink or gym sneakers or a new car or any of the other thirty-three bazillion varieties currently on the shelves.  I just want my lasagna to smell like lasagna, which means I need a candle that smells like nothing.  This, as it turns out, is apparently the only scent that candles don’t come in!

What sets me apart from your average logical thinking adult, however, is the length of time it has taken me to finally reach that conclusion.  Did I, for example, figure it out after I’d been to two houseware stores in two separate malls?  Nope.  How about three home decorating stores in as many different shopping centers?  Guess again.  Was it after trying two specialty candle shops in totally opposite directions on the map?  You’re getting warmer. Tack on a couple of stops at random "Dollar Stores”, a trip to an obscure warehouse two counties over, and one place I drove by, but was too creeped out by all the mystic artifacts in the window to go inside, and you’ve got a pretty good idea how determined I was to locate those blasted candles.

The worst part is I do this sort of thing all the time, and I’m not just talking about shopping.  One time I spent two whole days sewing tiny gold sequins on a Matador suit for my two-year-old grandson to wear as a Halloween costume.  And let’s not forget the year I got up at four in the morning to cut apple slices into little star shapes for a pie I was entering in the State Fair. 

It’s a little hard to explain the reason I do these things, but basically it goes like this: I get an idea in my head, or more accurately, a picture in my mind, and it’s so vivid and so spectacular that I’m practically compelled to bring it to life, no matter how long it takes or how much trouble I have to go to.  Why?  Because it’s important to me, that’s why.  I mean, sure my grandson could have worn a store-bought Superman costume that year, and certainly there was no need for star-shaped apples in that pie, especially since the judges never saw them anyway.  As for those elusive unscented candles, I could just return the silly centerpiece and put fresh flowers on my table instead and nobody would even notice, much less care.  But I care, and I care a lot, so tomorrow I’m heading out on my quest again.  Only I this time I won’t come back empty-handed.

There’s a word for all of this, you know – it’s tenacious – which means persistent, dogged, determined, stubborn and yes, even a little obstinate.  Most logical thinking adults would probably consider a trait like that to be a negative thing.  I respectfully disagree.  And after you see my table setting, I’m betting you will too!

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