Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A gift of myrrh

That's what I titled a book I wrote a couple of years ago (and quickly gave up on getting published; I'm working on some serious revisions: different point of view, different audience, and different storyline . . . okay, so all I kept were the characters). Several people who reviewed it mocked the title openly and with great relish. The title had everything to do with the book but, yeah, it was and is kinda cheesy. I give in. I cry uncle. I confess I tried too hard for meaning.

The reason I bring it up now is that I'm burning a myrrh incense stick as I type this. I loooove incense and did long before I spent last winter in the Middle East. But incense sticks are a joke there. No one burns sticks or cones. They burn the actual resin, which is much more expensive than the roughly 9 cents a stick I spent on what I'm smelling right now. When first moved in, our villa in Qatar reeked of something that was a combination of vinegar and vomit. I begged some incense sticks off a neighbor, hoping to somehow mask the stench. It didn't work. Didn't even take the edge off. What I really needed was that expensive resin. Or time. I went with time and the smell eventually went away. But not really. Turns out, we all just got used to the smell and didn't realize it until we brought it back with us. After a week or so back home in Pitttsburgh, our boxes from Qatar arrived, and when I opened them, it was like welcoming in the vinegar and vomit. I did a lot of laundry that day.

Before we left the Middle East, Ron and I went souvenir shopping. We stopped at the Old Souk and slipped into a perfume and incense shop. When I asked for incense sticks, the man gave me a look of disgust--as though I now smelled like my villa--and handed me a box, obviously unimpressed by my taste in scents and in my budget. But for the equivalent of about $2, I got 49 (seven of seven different "flavors") of the best-quality incense sticks I've ever had the pleasure of burning in my house.

Although one of Emma's friends in Pittsburgh disagreed. He walked into our house one afternoon after school while I was burning one, and in his 6-year-old innocence, made a face and said, "Your house stinks." A couple of weeks ago, our piano tuner was here while I was burning one. His allergies kicked in and I had to put the stick out. They're not for everyone. I get it. I understand. I cry uncle.

Last week, I saw I was running low here in Chicago and got online to order more. These aren't as good as the ones we brought back with us, but they'll do, especially since, to my knowledge, my house doesn't have any serious stenches that need covering up. If it did, I'm sure one of Emma's friends would quickly tell me.

And I still have lilac and frankincense and vanilla to try. And some cones. And still a precious few remainders from Qatar. I'm not a big perfume fan, never buy it for myself, and rarely wear it. But if I could wrap myself up in incense smoke throughout the day, in or out of the house, I absolutely would. Even if I were mocked openly and with great relish.

Anyone else share this love?

1 comment:

Sherry said...

I like burning oils- usually peppermint. : )