I Have Been Eating Candle Wax

The Internet, she is slow, slow, slow. I could probably take up French in the time it’s taking to load things.


But on the bright side, Terrell Owens’ ankle is only a sprain, not a break. Silver linings and all that. (Those of you who don’t follow Cowboys football can just ignore this.)

Today was crazy baking day. I made two pound cakes, more Christmas Crack, and cupcakes with buttercream frosting. The only thing I didn’t get to was the gingerbread. I am whupped, man. But nuclear war could break out and I’d have sweets stockpiled for eons.

I actually came across the original recipe for chocolate peanut-butter balls in my family cookbook today and was stopped cold by the ingredient list: peanut butter, vanilla, confectioner’s sugar, chocolate, paraffin.

Exsqueeze me? Paraffin? As in wax?

And then I remembered that we used to melt paraffin into the chocolate because it made it stick better or something. Yes, we were melting CANDLE WAX into our chocolate treats. This seems, in retrospect, um…odd. And vaguely creepy. Like we were some kind of alien candle family who had to feed our hunger with paraffin. I meant to call my mom and ask her about this, because I can’t imagine her doing this somehow.

Let me tell you a little about my mom. She is a very nice lady who lives in Texas and who gave me my love of books. She is also, like all of us in my family, slightly insane. Her favorite director is Woody Allen. The first time I saw a Woody Allen movie, I understood. My mother IS Woody Allen. Or more like a Woody Allen/Gracie Allen hybrid. She owns a Merck manual. If you don’t know what that is, you’re not a doctor or a hypochondriac. My mom is not a doctor. We come from a tribe of people who live to discuss ailments and disease, usually at the dinner table. Sometime I will tell you of my mother’s lifelong fascination with leprosy and why I cannot eat red Jello salad anymore.

When I am coming down with something, I often call my mother. I do this because I know she will play a game with me called “Worst Possible Scenario.” And for some reason, I find this comforting. I don’t need to feel bad if my mother can do it for me and better.

ME: I think I might be getting a little cold.
MOM: *gasp* Oh my God. How can you be sure? What are your symptoms?
ME: Er, scratchy throat. Sniffles.
MOM: *troubled exhale* Ohhhhh. Oh, no. You know strep is going around here.
ME: But…you are in Texas and I am in New York.
MOM: I saw on the news today that it is going to be a BIG SEASON for strep. Do you think you have strep? Do you have white patches in the back of your throat like cottage cheese?
ME: Eww. Thanks for that. I don’t think it’s str–
MOM: You DO NOT want to fool around with that! Not with OUR family history.
ME: (knowing I’m going to be sorry for this, but…) What family history?
MOM: Oh! Don’t you KNOW? You have TWO great uncles who DIED from RHEUMATIC FEVER! Do you have a rash?
ME: Wasn’t that in, like, 1925 or something?
MOM: Listen, that can come on OVERNIGHT! Oh, we have LOTS of strep-related illnesses that run in our family. It’s a GENETIC thing. I read an article just the other day that said if you are GENETICALLY PREDISPOSED to strep you MUST go to the doctor at the first sign of a sore throat. You could be DEAD BY TOMORROW! You’re not aching in any of your joints, are you?
ME: It’s. A. Cold.
MOM: Well…I hope so. That just worries me to DEATH.
ME: Yet you breathe still.
MOM: Very funny. GET A STREP TEST! Call me tomorrow and let me know what the doctor says.

Sometimes these calls will be followed by what a friend of mine calls (in reference to her own mother’s emails) “Munchausen’s by Internet.”

Sample Mom email: I just looked up your symptoms in the Mayo Clinic book, Volume 487B, and I hate to tell you this, but you could have A RARE TUMOR OF THE ADRENAL GLAND! They thought I had this once back in Corpus Christi. Oh, the tests for that are AWFUL and of course they NEVER find anything conclusive but, you know, you have to go back and it’s EXTREMELY PAINFUL–oh, I hope you don’t have to do this. But don’t let them put you on (X) medication because that can cause SEVERE ALLERGIC REACTIONS in some people and with your weird allergy problems I’d be afraid it would KILL YOU!! Anyway, sweetie, let me know what the doctor says. Hope you’re feeling better! Love, Mom.

The thing is…my mom is often right. More right than most doctors I have met. Her dream job is to be a medical detective and write those columns in the New York Times magazine about unusual symptoms–sort of “House” like. She’d be really great at it.

I know my mom reads my blog–*waves* Hi, Mom! (Everybody say, “Hi, Mom.”) But she won’t comment because she doesn’t want her IP address logged even though I’ve told her as long as she wears the tin foil hat, they can’t do that. And Mom? Anything that might be wrong with my health I’m sure has to do with the fact that YOU PUT CANDLE WAX IN OUR CHRISTMAS TREATS!

I am bummed that my mom isn’t here because it’s almost Christmas, and she is the biggest Christmas person on the planet. I will miss having her walk around the house tomorrow, shouting, “Oh, I am PEAKING! I’m PEAKING!” Because that’s what she says every Christmas Eve as the Christmas music is playing and she’s wearing her Christmas sweater and her holly necklace and earrings and eating treats laced with foreign objects that are giving us all cancerous tumors that will need to be looked up in the Merck Manual. Christmas with my family is an extreme sport, folks.

Okay, here is today’s TSFT quote, chosen at random by my husband:
“I stand on the narrow sill, holding tightly to the frame, my body bowing out. And then I let go. My arms transform into the shiny blue-black wings of a raven, and I’m soaring high above Spence. It is exhilarating. I could live inside this power forever.”

And why not a bonus quote from the same scene?
“I push through the door, and Kartik takes in the sight of me–face flushed, hair a ruin. ‘Gemma? What has happened?’
‘You’re dreaming,’ I say, and his eyelids flutter under my persuasion. When he opens his eyes again, he is in that twilight land between waking and sleep.
‘Why didn’t you come to me?’ I ask.
His voice is faraway. ‘I’m a danger to you.’
‘Well, I am tired of the safe. Kiss me,’ I say. I take a step forward. ‘Please.’


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