When I was a kid, my sister Patti and my brother Bobby and I used to play the card game Authors. I don't even remember when we got the game--probably Patti, the Future English Teacher At The Time got it for Christmas--but we played it like crazy for a long stretch of time. We had the version pictured above, and the game is played like Go Fish.
Like most kids who sit around together, we'd eventually get silly. Pretty soon, we began to personalize Authors, changing the names of some of the titles and of some of the authors themselves.
The first change was poor Longfellow, who was immediately rechristened Santa Claus, for obvious reasons. Shortly after that, my brother could be heard to ask in a game, "Do you have The Village Idiot by Santa Claus?" rather than for The Village Blacksmith by Longfellow.
Pretty soon, every card had been customized. Sir Walter Scott wrote Ken-L-Ration, Washington Irving wrote The Alhamburger, and Crossing the Bar was written by Mikhail Kuprikov, the drunk who lived on our street. And let's not forget Nathaniel Hawthorne's masterpiece House of the Seven Betty Grables.
So irreverent we were! Is nothing sacred? I can still remember the goofy faces Bobby made as he asked for The PickyWicky Papers by Charles Dickens. There are probably still Cheeto smears on some of the cards. It's terrible! These authors should be honored and treasured...and...
Now you can smell like them.
Okay, actually that's not entirely accurate. You can "pay homage to the literary greats" by burning candles made with scents inspired by their works. I found these candles at the bookstore last week. My friend Sue and I spent many minutes sniffing and deciding which candles we liked, didn't like, and which ones made sense for the authors they represented. Walt Whitman's scent blend of grass, thyme, and red clover is exceedingly appropriate. We both loved the smell of Edgar Allan Poe's, cardamom, sandalwood, and absinthe, but while it smelled wonderful, I have issues with its authenticity. It doesn't really represent Poe, and it perpetuates the myth of Poe's recreational drug/alcohol use. Jane Austen, the only female author represented (how sad and silly, really), is signified by an overpowering floral melange of jasmine, tuberose, and gardenia. Truly awful. How could they ignore Emily Dickinson, for example, whose scent could have contained notes of apple, cinnamon, lavender, vanilla, or even caramel, which she loved to make, along with her pies and cookies?
Belletristic Candles--an interesting gimmick. I look at the authors as of yet "unscented" and I think about what their candles would smell like. I'm not sure they would care. Each of them would be pleased with simply the flame--to know that, after so many years and so many eyes, their words still light the way.