I confess that I have a thing for expensive candles.

These days, I am not sure whether I have many vices, or few.

I am, however, pretty sure that I have always had a thing for fire, generally, and candles, specifically.  Not in the sense of rose petals and tealights.  And not in the sense of black lights and rituals, either.  I’m an Upper East Side wasp.  I have spiritually been this same woman since birth, but have identifiably been this way since I was four years old, when my mother would let me host intimate dinner parties where I begged her to let me use lit candles.  I would serve plain noodles; maybe dry chicken.  Inevitably these affairs ended with me lighting my mother’s tablecloth and several paper napkins on fire.

(The rationale with the paper napkins was: who lets a four year old use cloth napkins?  Not: who lets a four year old host candle-lit dinner parties? If you know my parents, this obviously makes perfect sense.)

Anyway, I always have candles in my house.  I am known for going into Blue Mercury and spending an hour sniffing my way through the various fragrances and ranges.  I had a fit when Oprah “discovered” Lafco candles, because I’d discovered them long before she did.  And I once had kittens over the smoke smell in a hotel room (honestly, what did I expect?), and the general manager promptly sent up a set of very fancy candles that one could only obtain France.  I hoarded those things, until I finally burned down the last one this week.

Fortune cookies.  Flowers.  Expensive candles.  Want to know the way to my heart?  Send me any one of the above.  Now you know 2/3 more about me than my ex-husband ever bothered to find out.

It’s not even just the expensive candles, I suppose.  I own more pairs of candlesticks than any woman probably should and I burn tapers frequently.  Crystal; pewter; brass candlesticks (though I’m not sure where the brass ones are at the moment, and cleaning brass is a nightmare).  I love lighting the tapers on the table, even if it’s only me sitting down to eat.  I love the way things glow; how it all feels like such an intimate experience.

If I had a fireplace, I’d light fires.

I suppose I’m not very good at having intimate relationships — but maybe this is all a simulacrum of intimacy.  Or, maybe it’s not that deep at all.  Perhaps I simply like things that are beautiful.  That smell nice.  That shimmer; that are light and warm and a little dangerous.

And that cast golden glow.  Candles are expensive like gold, too.  Oh my goodness, they’re so pricey.  When I was younger, my father would oft accuse me of having champagne tastes on a beer budget!  But guess who has the power of the purse now?

However, the ship of spending money on anything all that interesting has sailed.  For instance, my days of caring too much about the bags I carry are done — I’m not trying to run with the girls in investor relations.  And the fancy shoes era was pretty much over once my interest in marathoning was piqued.  So having champagne taste in such household ephemera as candles is perhaps not the worst thing in the world.

(Yes, it actually is.  If you knew how much I spent today on three candles, you’d be embarrassed for me.  I could’ve bought a really nice pair of new jeans, at least.)

So please, for the love of all that is good, please keep me away from the Diptyque boutique.  Keep me out of Blue Mercury.  Put up some kind of net-nanny that will block me from the Lafco website.  I love fire.  I love things that glow.  I’ll take a bonfire; even a barbecue will suffice.  Tealights are nice, and tapers will do.

But where expensive candles are concerned, I am a moth to a flame.

(Circa mid-1990s.  Axe; log; lighter fluid.  Daughter of the God of Fire.)


Leave a Comment

  1. Tapers and candlesticks. Cloth napkins and manners. These are either things you lived and breathed growing up or you did not. Honestly, I was more put off by the fact that other people didn’t eat with candles than the fact that most nights were spent in the dimmed dining room with candles.

    p.s. Hoarding little luxuries from a hotel is Our Hunting Trophy. Even if to the untrained eye our spoils would seem laughable.

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