The Latest Flame: Why Candles Should Be Banned
Those of us with a morbid fear of fire have a lot to think about in the news these days.
Wildfires in Australia have killed close to 200 and still threaten lives. Meanwhile, a huge luxury hotel under construction in Beijing caught fire and burned spectacularly. Both of these sad episodes will become evidence in my ongoing efforts to ban candles.
Now, candles haven't yet been linked to either fire. In Australia authorities think arsonists may be involved. In China the culprit was fireworks set off too close to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. (Whoops.) But I'm sure you'll agree that candles are the spawn of Satan and should be wiped off the face of the Earth.
Now, the occasional candle stuck in a chianti bottle at a romantic dinner is acceptable, especially if the chianti bottle rests in a bed of sand or raked earth and a Halon fire-suppression system is installed in the ceiling. What I have trouble with is the resurgence of the candle as a ubiquitous household appliance, odor-remover or mood-enhancer.
I blame 1980s music videos for resurrecting a technology that Thomas Edison thought he had laid to rest. You have to wonder how much the candle-industrial complex paid the Police to shill for their product in the "Wrapped Around Your Finger" video, candle-porn of the worst kind.
Today, candles aren't just for dinner anymore. Housewives are supposed to light them to fill their rancid kitchens with the scent of lavender vanilla. Lovers are meant to surround bathtubs with flickering tapers. Funny how these fantasies never include a wrinkled, dripping couple having to scrape wax off the porcelain.
Why my antipathy toward a column of wax around a wick? Well my step-brother did almost burn the house down with an unattended candle. And I've written in my column about a little girl who was severely burned when a candle caught her skirt on fire. I just can't get comfortable around the things, especially when they're used as a piece of decor, scattered around a room, each one burning malevolently. I dread power outages.
So, please do your part. Write your representative. Start a petition. Gather your candles and throw them in the fireplace. Fireplaces I like. Just make sure the fire's totally out before you go to bed.
What do you think?
February 10, 2009; 8:15 AM ET
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