Thursday, November 19, 2015

is this burning an eternal flame

How many times has something like this happened to you?

A couple of weeks ago, we had friends come over for dinner. My wife asked me to light the dozen or so pillar candles that we have arranged on a really cool, multi-tiered, cast-iron holder in our fireplace. I picked up the extended grill lighter that we keep next to the hearth and gave the trigger a few flicks. It sputtered and sputtered again, producing only a brief, weak spark and a wisp of smoke. A few more clicks and I was convinced that this thing had served us well, but that it had lit its last candle. I scrambled through some drawers, found a forgotten pack of matches and I was back in business. I made a mental note to buy a new lighter, although I soon forgot.

My wife and I were in Home Depot to purchase a piece of plywood to repair the seat of a chair that my wife picked up for almost next to nothing. As we finished checking out, I noticed a small display of grill lighters sitting alongside a huge, point-of-purchase unit filled with more batteries than I or anyone have ever used in a lifetime. I pointed the lighters out to Mrs. P and she asked if I want to grab one, as long as we were here. "No," I said, dismissively, "I don't want to get back in line. I'll get one another time." Again, I made a mental note to buy a new lighter, but, again, I soon forgot.

On the afternoon of a lazy Sunday, I decided to make a quick trip to the supermarket to purchase some immediate "fill-in" items (half & half and cereal come to mind) of which I saw we were running low. I scribbled out a quick list, adding "lighter" at the end as a post-script to myself. I wandered the aisles of the market, referring to my list and filling my hand-held basket with the few items I needed. Next to the shelves of Cheerios (strangely enough) was a small rack stocked with carded blister-packs of grill lighters. Each card housed a pair of lighters and a tiny sticker identified the price as $3.99. I considered the price. This supermarket — one of many in close proximity to my house — was part of an independent co-op of markets not able to be competitive with the "big guys," so I figured this price may be high. I decided to pass and just stop at the much larger Target that shares the parking lot. I assumed (based on absolutely nothing) that Target would, undoubtedly, be cheaper. I left the lighter display as I had found it and made my way to the checkout. 

I drove over to find a closer parking space to the Target, although I probably could have walked. Once inside, I was quickly distracted by a bag of granola in bright yellow packaging. A red and white sign proclaimed a sale price of four bucks, so I grabbed a bag and set out to find.... um.... oh, right!... a grill lighter! I paraded up and down every logical aisle — housewares, automotive, even lighting — until I stumbled upon a shelf filled with Duraflame fireplace logs. Just behind the logs was a hook with packages of Bic brand lighters. These were packaged in pairs, as well, but the shelf tag read $5.19 for the pack. Now, I'm no math whiz, but even I can figure out in my head that $5.19 for 2 is more than $3.99 for 2. I stood there with that bag of granola dangling off my hand like extensions of my fingers, staring at the colorful-handled lighters and the inflated price. I dropped the granola on a nearby shelf and silently stormed out in disgust... and empty-handed.

I drove to the end of the parking lot and pulled up to the Home Depot — the same Home Depot at which this stupid quest began. I parked and stomped into the store, right up to the display that I had seen earlier in the week. This time, the brand was Scripto and the lighters (called "Aim 'n Flame") were offered in single unit packaging with a price tag of $2.97. Using my math skills once again, I concluded that this was the most expensive of all. I realized that, if I had just stuck with the "no name" brand from the supermarket, I wouldn't have had to make two additional stops, I would have had two lighters, I would have spent less money and I would probably have been home by now!

"Fuck it!," I muttered to myself and I lumbered angrily out of Home Depot. Once again, empty-handed.

I still have to pick up a grill lighter. But, I'm sure I'll forget about it as soon as I finish typing this.

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