This Haunts Me: Jen from Appleton at Bath and Body Works


I hope Jen from Appleton, Wisconsin is doing well these days.

As for Angela, the star of the best Bath & Body Works rant of all time (and there are surprisingly many on YouTube), I hope she’s living a Winter Candy Apple-scented life to the fullest.

In 2012, the aspiring vlogger posted a rant about her dire mission to acquire two coveted candles from Bath & Body Works: Winter Candy Apple and Iced Gingerbread. The outstanding 11-minute video recounts her harrowing journey to the store in APPLETON, WISCONSIN (it’s very important the store is called out for their heinous treatment of Angela).

After the video was discovered and spread across Tumblr, it was recognized as a cultural masterpiece of our time, a treatise on the frailty of the human condition and our undying perseverance to end our own suffering at any cost.

A synopsis: Angela stalked the store for her special holiday 3-wick candles. The store called and said they had her candles. Angela went to the store to wait for her candles. Manager “Jen” (full air quotes in the video) apologized that they didn’t have the full size of her candles.

Angela became “an ANGRY blonde!!!” as she calls herself in her vlog. To which end: “Oh Jen, Your ass is gonna get reamed,” she growls into her surreally out-of-focus “vlogging” lens.

The highlights of the clip are, of course, Angela’s complete lack of self-awareness and how thoroughly in-character she is when she says to “Jen”: “I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but I think I deserve something.” Is Angela playing an Arthur Miller-esque character of an aggrieved midwesterner who’s lost the ability to feel emotions save for material objects? Is this character so jaded by modern existence and the torturous mind games humans play with each other in our daily social interactions (i.e. small talk, cordiality in check-out lines, harassment-free phone calls) that she’s funneled all of her existential rage at “Jen from Appleton?”

Is that why she keeps referencing that Packers game? “I think the packers won? I don’t know; I’ve been dealing with F*CKING B*TCHES ALL DAY,” she emotes into the camera, begging for help with her round, dead eyes.

What is it about the Winter Candy Apple scent that Angela so sickly covets?

Health professionals concede that aromatherapeutic scents can improve one’s mood, with essential oils releasing chemicals that can trigger your smell receptors in such a way that your brain receives positive messages. Aromatherapy, though under-studied, has been shown to be beneficial to people suffering from depression and anxiety. Is that why Angela seeks these candles like it’s her mythic heroic journey? Is she not seeking Iced Gingerbread at all, but her soul?

Thomas Mann once wrote, “The striking feature of modern art is that it sees life as tragicomedy, with the result that the grotesque is its most genuine style.” Consider what happens next:

I MIGHT Boycott Bath & Body Works RANT!

“Jen from Appleton” can’t offer any balm to Angela’s soul-wounds except for coupons. To which Angela says, “Jen, I own every single coupon Bath & Body Works has. I don’t need any more COUPONS. Can you give me something else?”

Of course, for what can a discount do to mend the pieces of our hearts and minds broken by capitalism when all we want is that moment of sweet relief found only in the burning ember of a flame?

Why must love be transactional? Who puts a price on serenity?

And then the confrontation reaches its climax, like Sisyphus rolling his boulder to the top of the hill, when “Jen from Appleton” suggests Angela call a 1-800 number to complain to “a live person.” “A LIVE PERSON?!” Angela screams in anguish. “WHO THE F*CK DO YOU THINK I’M TALKING TO NOW? AM I TALKING TO YOU, WHO IS NOT REALLY HERE? ARE YOU NOT REALITY? BECAUSE I THOUGHT YOU WERE A LIVE PERSON. ARE YOU NOT A LIVE PERSON?!”

Are any of us live people? How are we to know if we’re truly living rather than simply performing our roles in these mind games that make up the social experiment called LIFE?! WAS JEN REAL? WAS ANGELA? AM I? What the ever loving f*ck is a winter candy apple?!

Now that it’s nearing that time of year for the Bath & Body Works sale, I can’t help but think of both Angela and Jen from Appleton and the lessons they’ve taught me. I take up more space in the world for having followed their journey, and when 2020 releases its cruel grip on our sense of security and candle shopping plans, I plan to look each cashier in the eye a little longer, knowing we share knowledge of suffering between us.

With my face forward into the unknown winds of 2021, I wish the best for all the Jens from Appletons — but not Angela. She was a b*tch.

Angela vs Bath & Body Works

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