You know the feeling. The dry lip feeling. You know you shouldn’t lick them because your dad told you while you were driving through Death Valley on a road trip that licking them just makes them worse. But you do it anyway (naturally) and a few minutes later you’re crying again from the back of your 1986 Dodge Caravan because your lips are stinging and you hope that your tears will offer better relief than your saliva.
That dry lip feeling defined my freshman year of college. Not just because it was my first winter in Utah and the cold dryness (or dry coldness) sucked all the moisture out of me, but because I didn’t have 80-freaking-cents to buy a single tiny cylinder filled with magical relief.
And I don’t mean Carmex, or Soft Lips, or even gobs of Vasaline that you try so hard not to swallow even though you know it’s futile. I mean chapstick. The perfect mixture of moisture and heaven, often with a touch of mint that makes you feel like you just brushed your teeth. That chapstick.
I remember using my pinkie to dig out the last bits of waxiness off the inside of my chapstick tube. Then moving on to, yes, pencils and Q-Tips to get those last remnants out. Leave me alone! I was desperate! Then, I would try to sleep while trying to ignore that one dry spot that I just didn’t have enough chapstick to cover, and knowing that if I tried to spread it around, it would just create another dry spot. It makes me cry just thinking about it.
I finally swallowed my pride and asked my roommate if I could use hers. After a few days of this, I could sense some hesitancy on her part. I could understand. Chapstick goes on lips, and it was weird, even though I wiped it off with a kleenex when I was done. Yes, I say kleenex. I don’t care what brand it is.
Next, I moved to slathering my face lotion on my lips at bedtime. That was the low point. It would dry almost instantly and it tasted SO gross. I would put it on and then pray that sleep would come quickly before the dry sting kept me awake. And I would cry for my Mommy back at home with her ever-ready tube of chapstick nestled in her humongous Tic-Tac toting purse.
I remember the day I finally scrounged up 80 cents to buy my very own tube of miraculousness. I ripped that Chapstick out of its wrapping with dry, cracked hands. Once it was free, the dang safety plasticy outer “shell” mocked me as my fingers slid around, trying to twist the cap off. I slid my thumbnail in the crevice and worked my way around, prying off the cap, which flew onto the floor. It didn’t matter. I would never need it again. I twisted the chapstick up, revealing its pink beauty, and raised it to my trembling lips, ignoring the sharp edge that cut my lips like a circular knife.
Then, I whimpered. It hurt so bad. My lips were too chapped for chapstick.
But, I persevered. I applied often and liberally, and soon, I could smile bloodlessly once again. I could sleep, knowing that with the rising of the sun in the morn’, my lips would would be greeted by the marvel of moisture, and with that moisture, peace and love and good grades.
Now, I think of my dry-lipped journey every time I grab a stack of Chapstick at the check-out line. One for my nightstand, one for the junk drawer, one for the car, and one for my humongous Tic-Tac toting purse. It may seem extravagant for me to have so many sticks of this waxy bliss, when others have so few, but I promise, living without this luxury will only increase their appreciation for this seemingly insignificant marvel–Chapstick.
It’s the simple things, folks.