Sunday, October 26, 2008

I'm too Jung to be a Freud:

Candles as an "enlightening" psychoanalytic tool

At first, the job seems simple: go to a major box store and purchase all the candles required to put on a series of Winter Harp concerts. The math is simple: 2 candelabras times 25 candles each times the number of shows and about half as many in case there is a draft and we have to replace candles at intermission. This year that amounts to some 900 candles.

The logistics are a consideration. What does that much wax look like? The answer, once I had it loaded up, was essentially a complete shopping cart level full. "That's a lot of candles" said a young woman shopper buying a single package. "I'm not into the whole electricity thing" I reply. She seems satisfied by this explanation.

Pushing something this heavy through a store filled with shoppers is also an exercise in harrowing near-misses. Finally I reach the long lineup at the cashier and breath a sigh of relief.

"You into some sort of ritual?" asks the gentleman in front of me in the lineup.
"Umm, you could say that," I say trying to be as vague as possible.
The worried look on his face betrays that he is thinking about large Victorian mansions on moonless nights filled with cloaked figures. He moves forward in the line.

A middle aged woman joins behind me in the lineup.
"You're quite the romantic guy I see" she says, looking at my cart.
"Umm, we actually use these on stage" I reply.
"On stage? You mean in public?"
"Yes, for the act."
"The... 'act'?"
"Yes, there's several. It's quite popular."
"I'm sure it is" she says, looking astonished.

I'm at the cashier. "You always buy this many candles?" she asks, not looking forward to scanning an entire shopping cart of one item.
"It's not what you think..."
"How many?"
"One hundred and twelve packages of eight."
"You look honest"

I pay and wheel my purchase to the parking lot and neatly pile everything into the trunk.
It's not everyday that I get mistaken for an anarchistic ritualist with a suspect side act: buying candles as an exercise in the projection of inner personality conflicts.

Truth is not always stranger than fiction.
In my case it is far more wonderful than the most feverish imaginations.

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