Sexless in the City

Sometimes reading romance novels doesn’t quite prepare you for a love life...

For this 30-year-old urbanite, love is always a misadventure: The Harvard Lickwit, Hippie the Groper, the 5% Man, and the Ad Weasel. These and many other men wander in and out of her life — but never her bed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

When to keep the flame alive

One of my lesser-known obsessions is candle-burning. I know: sounds boring, right? Sure signs of imminent spinsterhood and all that. But actually, there’s something of a challenge to it. God forbid such a cheapskate as I should actually buy full-price candles. Oh no. So the ones I get are sometimes a little odd. The latest bargain: two large round candles housed in variously broken coconut shells. Not that anything beside this superficial damage had to do with why Urban marked them down $8 to $2.50 ... but let’s just say they’ve been a candle-burner’s challenge.

Some weeks ago, we had a guest who told me about “candle hugging.” It makes your candles look less pretty and much more man-handled, but if you don’t mind the copious fingerprints in wax, pushing down the still-soft wax around the edges is sposed to make the candle burn longer and more efficiently. (Ah, the implications for love ... Hugging slows the ardor down but makes it burn a whole lot longer ... and so on.)

Like I burn my candles for what other folks will think of them! So I dove right into candle-hugging. But despite my efforts, it turns out these candles probably needed another wick or two apiece. They burned down through middle fast enough, leaving thick walls of wax around the outside.

But I have my ways. And so, each day I’ve been carefully nursing piles of matches where the wicks used to be into functioning flames that slowly melt the candles down from the base (I’ll you decide the analogy here in relationships). I may coming to even the end of that ruse, though. My fires are burning more slowly and finally the coconut shell itself started burning today. No good. (Firefighters, don’t worry; I move them to the stove top when things start to crackle or burn too big).

Since the main goal is to use up all the wax, I have a few options. For some years now, I’ve taken to melting down half-burned candles like these and pouring them into new candles I burn myself or give as Christmas gifts (the waxed cans from frozen juice concentrate work well as new-candle forms).

Thus my current dilemma: do I keep on nursing my matchstick flames, day after day, or fish out the matches and melt down the candles to start all over? There’s surely one small candle apiece in each of the burning projects I’m stoking. Then again, the orange one just got excited again and lit two or three more matches so that the wax started melting much faster and nearly bubbling near the flames (prompt relocation to the stove at that). When you give ’em some help, candles seem to have a way of maintaining their lives (high flames briefly generate more fuel, which smothers the flame a bit, returning it to a healtheir equilibrium).

Surely love is not so different. One girlfriend of mine dated and dumped her poor man some five times before the last time, when she finally said yes to the latest proposal. They now have a young daughter. But you never know the wisdom of that until later. At one point it may have seemed he was wasting a lot of energy, not fully moving on from her. It might have looked like the best was to call it quits on that candle, remelt his love and pursue another girl.

And then you have inveterate crushers like I. Let’s just say that, recently, I did something to the candle-burning circumstances that either will cause the flames to burn differently, or this candle to cease burning altogether. Which will happen, I’m not sure. It’s tempting to cut my losses, rule out any chance of future life in this candle and remelt it into something else — or give up candles altogether.

“Keep on movin’ on a fast train — goin’ nowhere fast,” sings Solomon Burke from my stereo speakers. “How long can it last?” I wish I knew, Solomon. Aren’t you the one supposed to have so much wisdom?

Was a time, I thought a crush ended one of three ways: the liked-one got married, found serious love, or a better person came along. But all those things depend on externalities. Maybe just as with my candles I’m tempted to blow them out for good, a crush too can be cut off from its life supply. Only this time I’m not sure I want to melt down the wax and try again; might be easier to just pour it out a window somewhere.

Though there may be a final resort. The other day I came across this website — none other than “the world’s largest matrimonial site.” The front page shows an Indian man, so they must be catering to women (unlike the cleavage-flaunting True, which clearly works with randy men). You may have onto something, VJ, when you suggested I was leaning toward arranged marriage ... They even work with Christians!