I have decided every trip to Chicago with my cousin Jeannie must be accompanied by some sort of trauma. For her. It's like some sort of trial to see how she holds up.
I think she got off easy in 2005. If there was trauma, I've blocked it out. In 2006, Aunt Kathy and I dragged Jeannie to Nordstrom for a bra fitting. I found the whole experience to be uplifting. Jeannie? Not so much. I don't think she digs strangers fiddling around with her parts. I figure once they've fiddled around with my parts, we're no longer strangers, and I might even have a new friend.
I thought long and hard about what Jeannie's Trial would be this year. I wasn't really struck with inspiration until we were actually in Chicago and we were, for some bizarre reason, having a conversation about ear wax. Aha! It had to be ear candling for 2009 (Yes, sadly there was a three year gap in my Chicago sojourns. Jeannie went to Chicago without me and trauma-free for those years.).
If you've never used ear candles before, I highly recommend it. It's amusing and slightly gross--a great combination.
So what is ear candling? You use beeswax (or sometimes other types) candles and fit the point down in your ear. The candles are hollow. After getting the pointed end down in your ear, you light the other end and voila! The vacuum of the flame/heat draws some pretty interesting things out of your ears.
Of course, this is something I learned from my sisters--those two tend to be my entrees to all things bizarre in the natural world. Neti pots? My sisters. Eating raw oat groats? Ditto. Homeopathy? Cleansing? Kombucha? Sisters. Sisters. Sisters.
The ear candling has become something we all do together, usually when my mom is in town. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you get a huge Shrek-like piece of wax out of your ear. Other times, not that much comes out. That's kind of a bummer.
So I was pretty excited to introduce Jeannie and Aunt Kathy to this new venture. Aunt Kathy, always game for anything, drove us around town to find the ear candles. I think Jeannie was secretly relieved when Whole Foods told us they don't carry ear candles--probably some sort of liability if a customer lights themselves on fire. But I'm just guessing.
But we were rewarded the next day when we found a local health food store that carried the candles. I raced back out to the car brandishing the candles like the Olympic torch. We were on our way to see Jersey Boys so our appointment with our ear wax had to wait a bit. And, as an aside here, go see Jersey Boys. Awesome.
So Sunday night, after prying Jeannie away from her computer, we began.
Here's what ear candling looks like:
Setting her alight.
Jeannie waits patiently for the candle to burn down.
Note how carefully I'm watching to make sure Jeannie doesn't catch fire. I'm a good cousin that way.
I'll spare you photos of what came out of our ears. Actually, none of us was really that waxy, which was a bummer. Next time I'll have my Mom come--she's usually good for some impressive chunks.
"Experts" poo poo ear candling and say it doesn't really pull wax out. But heck, if that's not wax coming out of my ears, I'd love to know what in the world is it? Portions of my brain? Come to think of it, that's entirely possible. You do see a lot of powdery stuff when you unroll the candle. I think that's the beeswax dust. But there are large chunks of what is obviously wax and frankly, I think I hear better after we do the candles.
So to heck with the experts--I dig it, I think it works, and that's what matters.
A few tips:
1. Don't do the ear candles alone. For obvious reasons. I also don't recommend wearing a lot of hairspray prior to having a lighted candle near your head.
2. Use a tin pie plate between you and the flame. For obvious reasons.
3. Have a bowl of water ready to put out the candle when you're finished. Or, as Jeannie pointed out, you could pour it over the person's head if you set them on fire.
Good luck. And remember, only you can prevent forest fires.
As a preview for tomorrow, I'll be posting an update on my hair. Get ready Anne K.!