A few days ago I decided I deserved a reward for my fine attitude and behavior during the lockdown. I didn’t want anything dramatic like a piece of jewelry, (who wears jewelry anymore?) or new clothes (good heavens, I have a closet full that I’ve barely worn over the last 16 months and, since they all seem to have buttons and waists, I may never wear again).
I decided a Jo Malone scented candle was the perfect choice, sufficiently self-indulgent and something I’d wanted for a long time. I even knew the exact scent I craved, Lime, Basil and Mandarin, very light and fresh and for whatever reason, reminds me of a cool summer day (how’s that for poetry?).
To make sure this was still my choice I decided to go to an actual store and have a real person wait on me (emphasis on the “wait on me” part). Fortunately, just as google promised, the Jo Malone store in the Time Warner Building at Columbus Circle was still in business, so last Friday morning I happily set off on my quest.
As I entered the tiny, well-appointed shop Frank, the Manager, and the only other person who could fit in the store, greeted me with a friendly smile and a big hello. Candles of all sizes were displayed on glass shelves in clear glass containers with shiny silver lids and black ribbons all looking lovely and esthetically pleasing. Frank agreed I had chosen an excellent scent then asked if I wanted to purchase a diffuser along with the candle, if so, he suggested I buy the large candle to assure that the scent would “gently waft through the rooms and perfume the entire home”. I explained that “the entire home” was a small NYC apartment which definitely wouldn’t require more than one small candle. “Aha” said Frank indicating that he understood, then proceeded to tell me he had a three-bedroom house on the beach in New Jersey which required three diffusers and three of the largest candles (and you are schlepping to Columbus Circle to work everyday? said the thought bubble appearing over my head).
Next my new friend Frank asked what turned out to be his most important question, was this my first Jo Malone candle? Tempted as I was to lie and say no thus avoiding the possible risk of being candle shamed, I meekly answered yes, this was indeed my first Jo Malone scented candle. “Aha” he happily exclaimed again, “then I will give you my new candle users tutorial” (seriously, a new candle users tutorial? said my second thought bubble). “Frank”, I replied, “you are very kind but I have used scented candles before and managed just fine”. From his expression I could tell I wasn’t getting out of that store without hearing his new candle users tutorial whether I liked it or not. What had started out as a happy excursion was suddenly beginning to feel like I might be in a Stephen King movie. I quickly decided to ditch my cynicism, get rid of the thought bubbles and adjust my attitude thus giving myself a better chance to escape alive, and who knows, I just might learn something, which I did…
The first time you light a scented candle (Jo Malone or otherwise says me, not Frank) you must let it burn for at least two hours so the melted wax reaches the entire perimeter. This allows the candle to always burn evenly and release the scent efficiently.
Every time you light the candle clip the “mushroom” off the top of the wick otherwise the buildup of carbon will cause your candle flame to burn higher and your candle will soot and smoke.
The tutorial only took a few minutes but then came the elaborate wrapping process reminiscent of the scene in the movie Love Actually when Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) the jewelry salesman takes forever to elaborately gift wrap the gold heart necklace Harry has just surreptitiously purchased for his secretary while waiting for his wife.
Ok so I’m exaggerating, but only a little. First Frank carefully wrapped tissue around the candle and with a flourish placed it inside an elegant black and cream Jo Malone box. Next he proceeded to spray perfume on reams of more tissue paper so I could “place them in my drawers”, then he delicately placed the box and the tissue paper inside a cream and black Jo Malone shopping bag after which he carefully cut just the right amount of black silk ribbon, meticulously tied it in a perfect bow to hold the handles of the bag together and ceremoniously presented it to me as if he were indeed bestowing me with a well deserved reward.
Despite my irreverent thought bubbles and cynicism the experience turned out to be unexpectedly unique and fun (and educational) and it all took place in an actual brick and mortar store where I was waited on by a man who clearly loves his work. Purchasing the coveted candle may have been rewarding, but the journey and the destination were right up there as well.