First let me say that the next time I drive any further than the mailbox (a proud lazy) on the last Saturday before Christmas will be the last and if, for some reason, I do venture out on this accursed day in the future and you see me on the road I want you to take note of my lisence plate and location, call 911 and make shit up.
Today though, I did make this mistake as I actually had a couple of dollars in my pocket courtesy of some of the best co-workers a fella could ask for. I happened to mention to one of said co-workers as he gave me a ride to the shop to pick up the $800 job on my car that it was an expensive day and an anticipated check wasn’t going to get to me in time for Xmas shopping. Money, or having any, is not a skill of mine and this check, the return of my full security deposit from my recently vacated apartment (life hack – always clean the crap out of your soon to be vacated apartment you knuckleheads) had me excited to maybe be able to actually buy some presents for my family for the first time in years. But alas….. So he, unbeknownst to me, got some of the gang to get me a card with those couple of dollars in it. Like I said, some of the best co-workers a fella could ask for. But I could now, at least, show up my sister’s house with something Christmas for my nephews Jake and Matty. Mom, Sis, Bro, my Sis’s guy Buck? IOU’s, sorry guys, but Jake and Matty? They deserve something to open from Uncle (or Unca for the Matty child reminisce) Steve.
So venture I did, against my better judgement, into Dante’s 10th level – humaness on the last minute knife’s present buying gotta get grandma, drunk uncle politic Bill, the paperboy and the rest of the requisite or almost forgotten something’s edge. To try and steel myself as much as I could from this I had a plan. A plan that included just a couple of specific things…plus beer for when I was done to congratulate myself on surviving such. Get up early, like 7am early, get some laundry done, because no one can have as much Saturday fun as a single dude with dirty sundries, stop in to my good friends Bren & Bob to drop off some Christmas present plants and then get to the Mall by 10a. Did I think other folks wouldn’t have a similar “early start” plan? No. Did I hope other folks wouldn’t have a similar “early start” plan? Yes. Well, so much for hope…Hell, it’s the holidays…who has hope at the holidays anyway?
Make it to the Mall I did though and, being a guy, it was going to be quick and emotionless. I knew what I came for, I was by myself, and nothing would distract me. Though I did linger over the calendars (the classic cheap I care just enough about you last minute to know your likes gift) slowly drifting behind below me on my way up the escalator I was resolute. I was heading to Bath & Body for a candle for mom. It was one of the few items in my plan and was the only reason for me being stupid enough to head out on this last Saturday before Christmas and extra stupid enough to make one of my stops the Mall. On the way back I would jump into Barnes and Noble quickly for the nephews as there, as well as the Mall, I knew exactly what I would come for and then it would be Stop and Shop, just down the street from my new place, for a couple of gift cards to augment their books and then home…blessed home.
My plan was going well, especially after I was able to shake off the almost calendar distraction on the up escalator until I ran into the tea candle conspiracy. Now I’m not talking about little actual ‘tea’ candles that are absolutely five minutes useless other than as decorations in some sort of candle display gift that is right up there with the I care about you just enough calendar or to be used in something solemn that just really doesn’t speak Christmas, but instead a candle with the scent of tea. My mother is English. She IS tea. It is part of her being and a good number of years ago I found a Yankee Candle – Tea & Honey – that was absolutely perfect – she loved it, I loved it and of course they discontinued it.
Well I recently re-discovered a similar candle. I say re-discovered as it was a gift that sat in the sheets and blankets closet at my apartment for almost 2 years. Now it wasn’t a gift that I hated and thus was relegated to the sheets and blankets closet to die (as referenced earlier, I’m a single guy, single guys, at least the non metro types, don’t hit the sheets and blankets closet all that often to refresh). No, it was gift that I just didn’t use as I went through a phase of not feeling all that candle-ee. But when I moved into this new place I obviously brought everything and it included that candle…a Bath & Body White Barn “Tea and Lemon” candle.
*Future reference: If you ever find yourself judging a tea scented candle competition put this one at the top of your list…and if they, for some reason, question your tea judge credentials just tell them “Frankenberry’s Mom”…they’ll know.
So I broke it out and in my crazy singleness I lit that bastard up! It was perfect and it was a candle that just screamed, scented “Mom!” A perfect Christmas present as mom and I still wistfully recall that fine “Tea and Honey” candle like a long lost friend (Oh, don’t try and tell me you don’t have some sort of similar). Thus my trip to the Mall for ONE item.
“Sorry Sir, that one is seasonal, there aren’t any”
WHAT?! When the fuck did tea become seasonal?! Have you talked to the English about this?! Is coffee seasonal? No! Is Coke (Pepsi Ok?) seasonal? No! Is a plethora of pumpkin spice everything, even deoderant and perfume, seasonal? No! Yes! Maybe! Oh, crap, you know what I mean! Seasonal? Seriously?
The discontinued or seasonal tea conspiracy left me at a loss. They didnt’ even have one “in the back” though I was encouraged to try back after the holidays in case there are any returns as most of us will surely take the possibility of a used candle. All I can hope for is that mom likes honey cinnamon crumbcake.Who wouldn’t right? I hope? Sigh.
Well I couldn’t walk out empty handed could I?
I made my way out of the Mall leaving a scented wake of honey cinnamon crumbcake, past calendars that didn’t even cause me to flinch now as they approached me on the down escalator, walked 3 miles barefoot and shirtless in the bitter cold to my car (I’m exaggerating now as I’m still pissed off) and headed off to the last stops of my plan. Hey, Jake and Matty will get the books I hope they like, gift certificates to buy what they actually like and I’ll have a story of tea candle conspiracies to share with mom. She’ll surely say “Stephen, I appreciate it, but didnt’t they have anything wine scented”