1. A Candle In The Thrift!

    ONE of the things that’s great about this whole new modern digital age, especially for someone like me who’s — surprise! — just a floor-to-ceiling stack of old newspapers or two short of being clinically diagnosed as a hoarder, is that these days, with my trusty EBC, or expensive blogging camera, I can go into a thrift store, see something neat (as you kids today say) and capture it on film, and by “on film” I of course mean digitally, sans film, all without having to waste money buying the damn thing that ultimately I would have no use for.

    Case in point? This candle I just saw a week or two ago:


    I mean, look at this thing — it’s great, right? Here’s how much of a freak I am — I did a double-take when I saw it, because I was excited to find what I thought at first was an honest-to-goodness vintage old tin can!

    “What a hypocrite!” you shriek. “You’re really no different than the people on Flickr that you make fun of!

    Yes, well. You got me there.

    Anyway! I soon realized it’s not an empty spaghetti can from the 60s, but rather…


    …a candle made to look like a can of spaghetti, sure, as the label says.

    Like you, when I see things like this — can or candle — I wonder to myself, and sometimes aloud (if a stranger’s nearby and I’m looking to make someone uncomfortable), “Where did this once mundane, now magnificent item reside for the past half-century? In an attic? A garage, a basement? In the bedroom of a beloved child who died tragically at an early age, and then Mom & Dad kept the room intact, as a shrine, maybe, for the rest of their days, until they, too, shuffled off this mortal coil, and some unsentimental realtor boxed up everything in the place and delivered it to a thrift store? How is it that something as commonplace as an empty spaghetti can or, yes, a bit less commonplace as a spaghetti candle avoid the trash bin for so long? Why is it here now, in front of me?”

    And speaking of the two items — Which would have been the better find: An actual empty can that decades earlier once held Franco-American spaghetti? Or this sort of Mad Magazine / Wacky Packages take on Franco-American spaghetti that’s not empty, and still has much of its original candle inside?

    I’ll leave that up to my, what?, six readers, as that is something only you can decide. If you’re done shrieking at me, I mean.

    “Does it smell like spaghetti when you light the candle?” you ask with a bit more restraint, using your indoor voice, and your question’s a valid one. Yet we may never know, since I left it there, unboughten. I did sniff it, though, and I couldn’t really detect any scent. But someone probably knows — it was gone when I went back to this particular thrift, less than a week later.

    How close to the original label was it? Pretty damn close, as you can see:


    On the right we have my candle — and by “my candle,” I mean a candle that is mine in spirit only: I do not actually own it but merely photographed it, and I refer to it as such because it’s the same candle I was talking about before; it is “mine” in that regard — but on the left,  we have an actual vintage empty Franco-American spaghetti can I found online that is not mine but belongs to a fellow who purchased it full of nails at a yard sale a couple of years ago.

    The question remains: Did he at first glance think he’d happened upon a Finko-American spaghetti candle and only upon closer inspection realize it was in fact an actual old empty can — empty, that is, of spaghetti but full in rich, nourishing nails?

    And if so, was he disappointed?

    We may never know.

    Next time:  I hypothesize at length about the unlikely set of circumstances that, in late 2013, placed two half-filled books of 1960s S&H Green Stamps on the ground in the middle an alleyway a block from my house and directly in my path…


    …and whether it’d been better to have found these books or the 50-year old merchandise that such stamps could have been redeemed for. (Presuming said merchandise would have been in as surprisingly good shape as these alley-books.)

    That, or maybe I’ll just pound out something quick about crap I bought at the dollar store. Either way, it’s sure to be compelling.

    Posted by on February 19, 2015, 11:01 PM.

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