What Gives, Bud?

I've had good teachers and bad teachers. Most of the good teachers I remember were English teachers or history teachers or journalism teachers. Maybe it wasn't the teachers who were good or bad, but my affinity for their subjects. On the other hand, my high school biology teacher was whispered to have had a fling with a senior and my high school chemistry teacher (also the cheerleading sponsor) spent our hours together monotonously reading aloud from the textbook. She might as well have been reading Greek. So maybe the teachers' skills played as large a part as mine.

Regardless, the little science experiment that has been playing out on my kitchen counter has proved both amusing and frustrating. The tables for Dining by Design (and I am sorry if you are bored of the subject - it is likely to continue all week) are not allowed to have open flame. I like tapers. It's not that I don't like votives, I do, and hurricanes have their place, but I really like a tall, elegant taper.

Enter the bud vase from Nell Hill's. When I spied it I am quite sure the women around me could hear a bell go off. "I can put a taper in there. It will not be an open flame. It will be a perfectly stylish slender hurricane and I am a genius."

So, tra la, tra la, to the register I head with my basket. Nell Hill's manager, who was a manager of mine long ago, cautioned only that as the bud vase was not meant to hold a candle the heat might cause it to break. Good thinking. I'd check it out.

Drip, drip, drip a few drops of wax in the bottom to hold the taper steady, light the wick and wait. I was fixing dinner and helping with homework when the eldest Blandings boy said, "Oh, Mom, the candle went out." "Did someone blow it out?" "Nope." Huh.

I tried again. And again. With different sized candles. Out of drafts. Each and every time, regardless of the variables, the flame went out when the candle reached about two full inches from the top of the slender, genius hurricane. The boys, including Mr. Blandings, thought this was the most interesting thing I had done for a long time.

I get that the candle is not getting enough oxygen; I just don't get why. I mean, people survive for days buried in rubble from earthquakes, it just seems that oxygen would travel a couple of inches to ensure that I have a pretty table. It's the least oxygen could do.

I've asked the eldest to ask his science teacher, Mrs. T, why this would be. Mrs. T is an excellent teacher. If Mrs. T had been my science teacher I would be a modern day Curie. With stylish slender tapers to light my lab.