Some­thing about th­ese gifts for col­lege stu­dents doesn’t smell right

The Sun News (Sunday) - - Puzzles - BY PAM STONE

Yes, the hol­i­days are upon us and people ev­ery­where have been goug­ing and scratch­ing each other to snag the best deal as they pre­pare to cel­e­brate the birth of The Prince of Peace.

There are also those who tend to be a bit less com­mer­cial, a bit more thought­ful, and I must say, noth­ing feels more sin­cere, at least to me, than some­thing from the heart. Some­thing truly home­made, whether it be baked, hand-sewn or knit­ted.

Un­less, of course, you’re a crap baker or seam­stress, and if that be the case, please go back to goug­ing and scratch­ing at Tar­get (or, ac­tu­ally, Dover Sad­dlery) for my sake. Thank you.

Be­cause I never had chil­dren (just so you know, I can hear you sigh­ing with re­lief), I was be­mused by an ar­ti­cle re­cently pub­lished in USA Today list­ing “The Best Gifts for Col­lege Stu­dents!” I don’t seem to re­mem­ber be­ing given any­thing as a col­lege stu­dent, in­clud­ing tuition, but I don’t be­grudge th­ese kids a thing.

Those pricey lit­tle items in the ar­ti­cle in­cluded things that re­ally were use­ful: Patag­o­nia fleece pullovers and sturdy, fash­ion­able boots to trudge through the snow on way to class. Noise-can­celling ear buds to help with study­ing while one’s room­mate is do­ing an im­pres­sion of Black Stone Cherry (like, the top rock band out there, GAH, don’t you know any­thing??).

But then, wait a minute, what’s this? “Home­sick Can­dles?” Se­ri­ously: can­dles that re­port­edly smell like your home state for the home­sick stu­dent. For ex­am­ple, their web­site states Mas­sachusetts smells like “ap­ple pick­ing.” No, no it doesn’t. I’ve been to Mas­sachusetts sev­eral times, in par­tic­u­lar, Bos­ton, and the scent of ap­ples is not the first thing that meets my ol­fac­tory sys­tem. Like Man­hat­tan, it’s gen­er­ally a mix­ture of diesel and urine with an oc­ca­sional Ital­ian restau­rant or bowl of chow­der thrown in.

Now, Colorado, I agree with: “fresh notes of spruce nee­dles and spice burn through the el­e­ments of melt­ing snow, cedar, san­dle­wood, and hints of am­ber and cin­na­mon.” No men­tion of mar­i­juana, but there you go. I had, of course, to go to my own state’s can­dle, South Carolina, and here I read, “Sip a cup of sweet tea from South Carolina steeped with berg­amot, hibis­cus and lemon slices. Mag­no­lia and pal­metto bal­ance notes of grape­fruit.”

Ain’t that pretty? But not as ef­fec­tive, I’ll wa­ger a guess, as my ini­tial guess of fun­nel cake, smoked hog and a sweaty Clem­son T-shirt. Now, THAT is what South Carolina’s all about, Char­lie Brown.

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