What would Heloise say?

My local Stop & Shop hasn’t had small boxes of matches on the shelf for quite some time and I’m starting to worry. Those little boxes play an important role in my life and it’s hard for me to imagine how I’d get along without them.

Big boxes of matches, called kitchen matches, are still relatively easy to find, although the strike anywhere variety are a tad more of a challenge. Hannah needed three (matches, not boxes) for her survival weekend; we found them at REI. (We have two hundred ninety-seven left if you need a few.)

Fireplace matches, those excessively long matches that snap in half when you try to light them, are also easy to find; impossible to use, but easy to find. Our Weber gas grill, which is probably five or six years old, eats ignition systems. Since it’s still digesting the last one, to light the grill we turn on the gas and then poke a lit match into a convenient hole built into the hull of the grill for just that purpose. See, ignition systems are what you call an after sale partThe manufacturer expects them to break so they can sell replacement parts, over and over to those dumb enough to fall for it. Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, Andrew does the grilling.

If all you want to do is make fire, there are any number of gizmos that let you push a button or thumb a wheel to produce a flame. But when it comes to those small boxes of matches, fire is not what we’re after. We want the smell that you get when you strike the match, the odor that lingers when you blow it out, because sulfur is the best room deodorizer in the world.  Ask Heloise. I bet she’ll back me up. You can keep your Lysol and your Air Wick. In this house we believe in the power of matches. Every bathroom has its own box and we all know how to use them.

You’re probably wondering why we don’t use the leftover strike anywhere kitchen matches. They would certainly work, and even for us two hundred ninety-seven matches would last a while, but the box itself is not portable, which is to say, it won’t fit in my toiletry kit any better than a can of Febreze would. And that’s where real disaster threatens.

The cost of attending writers’ conferences adds up, so to save money I normally share a room, sometimes with a complete stranger. I’m sure you automatically assume that I’m worried about offending my roommate, and while that is true, I am equally worried about said roommate offending me. Never is the odor-masking power of sulfur more welcome than when sharing close quarters with a stranger.

I wouldn’t be doing this subject complete justice without airing a little more of my family’s dirty laundry. Considering the subject we’re on, it can hardly get worse, right? My husband and I have an on-going argument about what actually produces the odor cover, striking the match or blowing it out. He maintains it’s the former; I argue the latter. And now, as Mike Myers would say on Coffee Talk, “Discuss!”


11 responses to “What would Heloise say?

  1. Ah, yes, the match trick. I used this once when working for a wretched type house in Watertown Sq., but when I emerged the wretched proofreader went into the one-seater bathroom immediately after me and emerged immediately and shouted to the entire small room, “Chris! Why does the bathroom smell like it’s burning?” The entire small office, except for the proofreader, knew exactly why it smelled that way. Except perhaps she did know, and was trying to embarrass me. I was never sure. She was rather deceptively horrible that way.

  2. I’m thinking that striking the match (friction) would release the order of sulfer (molecules) into the air — but, I’m going downstairs to test this theory. I’ll be back.

  3. I’m back. I think that you are correct. It definitely appears that it’s after the match has been blown out the order is released. My husband concurs.

    This is one of the funniest blog posts I think I’ve run across in some time. Now I know what to get you for Christmas!

  4. I’m on your side here…. Blowing the match out. The way to avoid that is to douse the lit match with water…. Have you tried the hardware store for little boxes?

  5. Bwahahahahahahahaha! And whoever invented the idea of a bathroom adjoining a bedroom did not have single people in mind… My understanding is that the fan in bathrooms is mostly designed to cover up untoward noises…

  6. Oh, and it’s definitely the sulfur. Sorry. We have a friend who has a house in Truro right on a very stinky sulfurous marsh and let me tell you, you can’t smell ANYTHING else there.

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