If you don’t want to throw away a ton of money in your lifetime, try to figure out what kind of person you are and make purchases accordingly.
For instance, I’m not an outdoorsy person. I know it, and I’m comfortable with it. If somebody asks me to go on a hike, I tell them to take one. Once, years ago, we were vacationing in Jamaica and everybody made a big deal out of climbing up some waterfall and how great it was, so we did it, and I was sweating and losing shoes and it occurred to me that, if we had been sitting on the beach and someone came along and offered us $50 to climb a waterfall, we’d ask him what he was smoking (an obvious question, considering the locale), and here we were paying to do exactly that. So you will find no camping equipment lurking in my past.
I also know I’m not a convertible person. I’ve never been tempted to own one and I don’t even like riding in someone else’s. Maybe it’s because it’s been awhile since I’ve been able to enjoy the sensation of the wind whipping through my hair. I’ll be driving on the highway in my bland Toyota Camry, watching all these middle-aged guys go by in their convertibles, and I’ll find myself rooting for a sudden downpour.
I bring all this up because my wife Barbara has not yet reached my level of self-awareness. She thinks she wants a fire pit.
In case you don’t know what a fire pit is, it’s a way to have a roaring campfire with open flames as close to your home as possible. You can cook on it, make s’mores, and basically do everything you can do around a campfire except sing, because you have a lousy voice, and the neighbors would complain. From the product photos I’ve seen, however, all anyone ever does around a fire pit is sit in a small group and gaze at the flames, so mesmerized that they won’t notice when the sparks reach their clothing.
We’ve vacationed at hotels that had fire pits, and Barb enjoyed sitting near them. Of course, she was ignoring two important points:
- We were on vacation.
- Someone else was tending the fire.
Here’s the thing: In the last decade, we’ve started a fire maybe four times in our fireplace…and that was only because a hurricane had cut our power.
All the fire pits for sale online have copy like “Beat the chill on a cool summer evening and gather around the fire for a cozy get-together with friends.” Well, yes, there was a time when building a fire was a great way to beat the chill. But that was a long time ago. Then we invented houses. You’re cold? Get the hell inside! Put on a sweater! Don’t set your patio on fire.
And what’s the big deal anyway? Sure, the fire is nice to look at for a few minutes once you get over the fumes from the starter fluid, but after awhile it gets boring, unless it spreads to your patio furniture. Then there’s some big excitement!
But, okay, with Christmas approaching, I thought I’d look into getting Barbara a fire pit. There are basically two types: ones that run on propane and start with the push of a button, and ones that use actual firewood that you have keep on hand, and stack in the pit, and douse with starter fluid, and by the time it gets going, you’re ready to go see what’s on TV.
I figured the propane ones are stupid; you might as well just sit by the barbecue grill. And I know Barbara well enough (even if she doesn’t) to recognize that if we had a wood-burning pit, we’d sit around the fire once and thereafter use the thing as a planter.
But then I found a third type that runs on gel. I’m guessing it’s not the kind of gel you put in your hair, because if that was flammable, you’d see more news stories about people in bars whose heads spontaneously combusted. This gel comes in little cans that you drop into the hole in the fire pit and touch a match to. It’s a real flame, without all the hassle.
And that’s what I gave Barbara for Christmas, and she seemed to like it. We took the pieces out of the box and slid them under the bed in the guestroom because it happens to be winter right now and we’d look silly gathered around the fire in our North Face coats.
But we’ll see if we ever use it on a “cool summer evening.” Or, for that matter, if we even remember where it is.
See you soon.