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Addicted to ChapStick

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Today I shall take a few moments out of my busy schedule to write about my lips.

I just now noticed how dry they were. “But of course, they’re dry,” you say, “it’s coming on winter.” Winter, the dreaded, dreary season, makes everything dry – lips, scalp, hair, skin. The humidity in the house evaporates even with a humidifier going full blast; the piano and violin are always out of tune. The dog itches, the cat’s eyes are dry. My houseplants need constant water.

However, my lips are always dry. Constantly. They’ve been this way since 1965. That’s the year we moved to Colorado, where the atmosphere is absent any humidity at all. Within two weeks of settling in, my lips became alarmingly chapped, peeling and nearly bloodied.

So began my relationship with ChapStick®. My parents weren’t going to splurge on something as expensive as ChapStick to heal my lips, instead urging me toward the slimy oiliness of a multi-purpose product, Vaseline®. My mother was to Vaseline what the Greek dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding was to Windex: it could cure all. Vaseline is good for restoring moisture to many things, including petrified Kraft American cheese slices (try it – it works), but it smells bad and tastes even worse. I would save up my allowance, not for candy and gum, not for the latest issue of Tiger Beat magazine, not for trendy clothing or costume jewelry, but to buy cherry ChapStick.

I was probably spurred onto ChapStick usage by that delightful commercial in the mid-70s featuring Olympic skier Suzie Chapstick (Chaffee). No, not really.

Even now I always have a stick nearby. These days, I can afford to buy the stuff in bulk from Sam’s Club, and I use them all. There are two in my car, one at my office computer, and several scattered around the house. There’s always one in my purse and one in my front pants pocket. There is one in every suitcase I own, one in my toiletry bag pre-packed for travel, and one in the bag I leave at my son’s house in San Francisco.

Maybe I don’t need it all the time, but I use it all the time. After all, I’m rarely in uber-humid locales like the Bahamas or the Bay Area. I’m in the Midwest, where the sun is good and hot in the summertime (sunburned lips a possibility) and it’s frigid in the winter (wind-burned lips a possibility).

I have dabbled occasionally in the lip balm products of other companies, such as Burt’s Bees, Carmex, Blistex, and the generic brands put out by each drug store. I’m certain there are designer lip balms in trendy places like Neiman Marcus, but I’m not a customer. I always come back to the standard. First of all, ChapStick is quite inexpensive. It’s not chi-chi – it’s reliable. ChapStick glides on easily and has the optimum consistency, and the flavored ones have just enough fake flavoring to be attractive, not annoying.

My favorite is cherry, but I can stand strawberry and even the plain ones. They’ve also come up with more “organic” combinations – meh, I can take those or leave them.

The first thing I do when I get into the car is apply the ChapStick. When I did that just now, I realized I’m running low.

Addicted to ChapStick? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a loyal customer.

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About Joanne Huspek

I write. I read. I garden. I cook. I eat. And I love to talk about all of the above.