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Today, I am here because I “need” candles. This will be the first of many lies I tell myself on this trip.

There is no scenario in which scented candles are a necessity for anyone. Are you performing a séance that only summons demons with a realistic sugar cookie scent? Do you only work by cherry blossom candlelight? Or are you just committed to perpetuating the lie that your home naturally smells like fruity ocean water despite living in a landlocked state and having to Google “bergamot orange real fruit or just candle smell”? No one “needs” candles, but if you’re gonna come with me on this journey, leave your bullshit attitude about my priorities on that mall bench next to all the disillusioned dads.

This Bath and Body Works is located in a strip mall next to a Target and a Starbucks. I’m a selfie-stick kiosk away from fully awakening my Inner Soccer Mom. As I cross the store’s threshold, I am harassed by 20 different sugary scents and a woman doling out shopping bags with a t-shirt cannon. The general vibe of Bath and Body Works is “house of funky aunt who always has cake for some reason and keeps reminding you your ovaries have an expiration date.” The store smells like I’m being hugged by every grandmother in America, every nana with cup of cocoa, every mee-maw with a scalding hot apple strudel. And if you took that last one as a euphemism: welcome. Everything you see and smell at The Works is a euphemism. I’ll look you dead in the eyes while buying a hand lotion labeled “sensual.”

I begin my ritual of huffing anything with a wick within arms reach. This is both an effective smell test method as well as an upper-body workout because their candles weigh as much as a newborn. You think a baby smells nice? Try going nose-deep into a 3-wick Mahogany Teakwood. If you didn’t come to get high on a Warm Apple Pie votive while douching yourself with a clearance foaming soap, what are you even doing here?

Bath and body works

A hear a woman yell, “Ooooh, their seasonal scents are out!” The war cry of my people. There’s a fragrance called Flannel. It’s a cute, wintery smell that’s code for, “We took the deodorant-laden armpits of your ex-boyfriend’s t-shirt and infused them with hope, pining, and actual pine. Basically, you’re about to drop $22.50 on a candle that’ll make you sad and horny at the same time.”

There is a tester version of everything. Their goal is to make you sample so many lotions, your hands are too moisturized to grip the door handle and you can’t leave. I know women who have spent their entire 20s in a Bath and Body Works. I choose to pay my respects to the 1200 different body mists with a hearty spritz of each one. My goal is to leave this store smelling like a baked good you want to hump.


Like any good trip, I black out and end up with $75 worth of soap cradled in my arms. Some may say that’s excessive, but only if you have a healthy understanding of fiscal responsibility. Before you get too judgmental, I do have a coupon. I’m on their mailing list because the subject lines of their email deals are the kind of passive-aggression I am here for. My inbox is littered with messages like "Seriously. Last chance for $10 body mist" and "We have your family. Buy our foot cream."

I leave with 3 more coupons than I came with because Bath and Body Works takes a human centipede approach to marketing. They feed you coupons so you shit out money and buy sugar scrubs to get more coupons so you shit out more money for more sugar scrubs. I plan to repeat this cycle until I die or my body just becomes a skin tube of shower gel. I’m honestly not sure which I’m approaching faster.

As I leave, I try not to become distracted by a candle display I’m convinced only revealed itself as I was attempting to exit. I dodge through a gauntlet of cookie-scented air fresheners for your car. You know, where every human bakes all their cookies. After donkey kicking through a thick haze of perfume and room spray, I finally find myself on the outside of the store. I get to my car and realize I forgot to buy candles. I will “need” to come back tomorrow.

Image via Bath and Body Works


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Mia Mercado likes to write funny things that make you think. She lives in Kansas City, working on freelance writing and self-control while eating chips. She wrote this all in third person to talk about herself in an acceptable way. Follow her on miamercado.comFacebookTwitter and Etsy.