Miss Scarlet in the Conservatory with the Candlestick

I always loved the game of “Clue.” Not only does it have that 40s British mystery atmosphere-- and I’m a bit of an Anglophile-- but there’s just something about getting to hang out in that mansion.

I mean, okay, so some dude named Boddy was murdered there (and with a name like that, it’s a little hard to believe he never saw it coming). But even in the middle of a murder investigation, I found myself enchanted by the mansion’s Persian rugs, shiny parquet floors... oh, and the Conservatory. I LOVED the Conservatory. Didn’t quite know what one WAS, of course...

(Growing up in New Jersey, I did not come from a Conservatory-oriented people.)

But between the serene colors of the carpeting and that excellent secret passage... it always made me want to, well, Conserve something.

It probably hampered my gaming success because I spent so darned much time in there.

I also was a huge fan of those little pewter weapons. And my very favorite was the candlestick. The gun? Mundane. Rope? Inelegant. Lead pipe? Looked like an oopsy with the gamepiece mold. But the candlestick-- Now THERE was a clever weapon. Leave it anywhere in the mansion and it looked perfectly right.

So maybe my old Clue days are why I have trouble passing up a particularly good thrift store candlestick. Not that I’m saying my beloved candelabras are a tool for Evil...

No need to send Scotland Yard my way.

Though some MAY argue the Good Taste Police might need a call. Because my favorite purchases HAVE tended to be large 60s and 70s, multi-armed gold-toned creations with enough crystals and curlicues to satisfy Liberace.

Of course, they work so well with Victorian décor. And I try to keep them to a minimum. (Or else paint them off-white to tone ‘em down a little.) Yet I DO catch the curious looks of my fellow shoppers as they see me hauling one of these big brassy babies to the register...

See, I am thinking: “This is going to look so amazing at Christmas!”

THEY are thinking: “Good Lord, someone is actually buying that gaudy monster.”

And since one of my shopping buddies has also heard the Call of the Candelabra in HER décor, well, inobtrusive thrifting really is a thing of the past. Like recently, when the Salvation Army Superstore had THREE of these crystalline creatures on the shelves...

There they were-- towering among more sensible coffee mugs, demure Tupperware and ho-hum Dollar store tchotchkes. Their arms swept dramatically to the ceiling like gilded Nora Desmonds, appealing to the audience below for starry-eyed adulation. How could we deny them?

My friend and I divvied these prizes democratically-- the pair with the marble bases and amber votive holders for her… The one with the crystal inset and clear glass hurricanes for me.

We had them safely in hand, delighting in our finds, and only then realized… how the heck were we going to get them up to the front of the store? Or for that matter, out through the heavy entrance doors into the parking lot? Each one was about five pounds of metal and crystal, plus there were five delicate glass votive holders to balance-- apiece!

So I babysat our finds while my friend went to get a cart.

If you feel you gain unwanted attention when you’re brandishing ONE vintage candelabra, just imagine what it’s like when you’ve got three jingling, clanking, clinking vintage candelabras in a cart, winding around your fellow shoppers down narrow thrift store aisles.

There is no subtlety here.

Every few seconds a votive holder would inevitably spring from its candlestick seat. Or some unseen mountain under the flooring would jar the delicate yin-yang balance of the cart’s contents-- one of us diving to preserve our treasures.

But, speaking only for myself, it was worth all the effort. My candelabra will have its moment of glory in the center of the dining table, candles lit, crystals shimmering in the light of the flames.

With the serene colors and floral rug of that room, I suppose it’s the closest thing my home, dear “Waterhouse,” HAS to a Conservatory. Only in my mini-mansion, there will be no piddly little murder investigation to distract from the important stuff-- you know, the décor.

Anyway, the candlestick’s way too unwieldy for that sort of thing.