2012-06-01 / Commentary

Man candles

It’s not a criticism; It’s an observation
Mike Cox

From an early age, guys are attracted to fire. We love campfires, glowing grills, explosions, and burning trash. Everything associated with fire except candles. We light birthday candles until maybe 13. Then we move past such childish things. Guys keep a tattered candle in a forgotten junk drawer just in case the lights go out, and the flashlight batteries are dead. If a grown man needs fire on the end of a stick, he makes his own.

Women on the other hand are candle freaks. The ladies love the things and buy them relentlessly: scented candles of various sizes and shapes with names like Morning Shower, Autumn Mist, and Lingering Passion. Potpourri in wax form.

Guys like distinct smells: New Rawlings leather, burning leaves, cedar and wet dog, oldest bar in town, freshly cut grass. Now it seems the Yankee Candle Company is trying to bridge the gap. The female gift superstore has released a line of “Man Candles” hoping to cash in. I’m just not sure who the target demographic might be.

Two things men will never actively purchase are candles and greeting cards. If Hallmark stores depended on men for a hefty slice of business, they’d all be tanning salons or check cashing stores. When a man hands a birthday card to another man you can be sure of two things. The guy has a woman in his life who reminded him of the birthday and probably bought the card, and both guys are slightly embarrassed at the exchange.

Guys make rude and insensitive remarks to each other to mark significant anniversaries or buy each other a drink. We already know who among our friends will stand beside us if we really need someone. A sappy Hallmark doesn’t add anything to the occasion. We measure friendship in other ways.

We also don’t buy stuff for each other. Every grown man I know buys whatever he needs whenever he needs it. He doesn’t wait until his birthday or Christmas to see if one of his close buddies was paying attention to all the subtle hints he dropped.

I once gave a retiring friend a framed copy of the scorecard from the first time he beat me at golf. I kept it for a couple of years before the occasion. He seemed genuinely touched. I don’t think a Lowe’s gift card would have had quite the impact. Guys not only don’t buy other guys gifts, we would never, ever, ever, buy another man a scented candle, not even if it contained the actual sweat of Secretariat or Babe Ruth.

So the only possible target consumer for this new Yankee Candle has to be female. Women buy a lot of stuff for men. We act satisfied because we know we have to, but in reality, the one thing we most want for a special occasion isn’t a thing at all. But women would rather spend money, lots of it, to purchase the perfect gift for the man in her life. They know it’s what a woman would want. So guys, just a warning. There are probably decorative candles with scents like sawdust or napalm in your future.

Remember to act delighted.

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