Thursday, January 26

Truth sits upon the lips

um, ew
A before-and-after composite illustrating Carmex's magical healing effects.

'Twas not too long ago that I took some cheap shots at one Angelina Jolie's cushy but fractured lipscape, saying, and I blockquote:

Angelina Jolie has diseased, cracked, pulpy lips that frighten and confuse me. She has the lips of a clueless, sloppy fifth grader in January. The lips of a child who lets her snot drip down her snot trough and then, when the skin has crusted and flaked sufficiently beneath the weight of the mucus, scrapes her sweater sleeve across her nose and mouth with no regard for the chapping that will be aggravated by such a careless, disgusting action.

Little did I know that the dermatology gods would frown upon my reckless snarkitude, for they obviously endowed Ms. Jolie, a veritable demigod, with lips no mere mortal could ever handle, and thus they shine a particularly protective light on her that requires them to smite those who wish to insult her lippy lusciousness. So not long after that post, though full of spit and vinegar and self-importance I was, I awoke with a set of cracked lips that would not quit. When I yawned or smiled, I could feel the flesh at the corners of my mouth ripping open, and I could taste the metallic blood when I licked my lips. I have been battling Cracklip since then.

Having (thankfully) never contended with severely chapped lips or cold sores before, I had no idea just how much pain and suffering, not to mention embarrassment, is involved in a serious bout of Cracklip. And, though I never developed a cold sore, I ended up speaking with the inflection of a tight-lipped cowboy who will go unnamed because Fritz is tired of hearing about the movie he's in. I had to tear my food into tiny bite-sized chunks rather than open my mouth to shove a fork- or spoonful of nourishment inside. My dreams of being a porn star were dashed.

It took me a couple of days to realize that my beloved tin of Burt's Beeswax was doing nothing but administering a masochistically delightful sting each time I applied its precious nectar to my lips. I have always been taught that stinging=healing, so at first I assumed I was on the road to recovery. Ou contraire, mon frere!

So I moved on to more hardcore lip balms, like Neosporin Lip Treatment. Like some kind of idiot, I imagined that a lip balm with the magical healing powers of Neosporin would heal my battered lips straightaway. My naive assumption could not have been further from the truth. The only thing that tube of lemony goodness was good for was allowing me to transfer my nervous energy into a frenzy of plastic-tube chewing instead of nail biting.

It wasn't until Marie and Joey on the Fritz (tm Amber) visited that I happened upon what has now become a passion of mine: Carmex.

Marie suggested I seek it out, and I had a bit of a "duh" moment, because I had relied on Carmex to get me through most of middle school (before I signed my soul over to Lip Smackers in high school), and it had never let me down. So from the moment I purchased a bright yellow tube of the smelly good stuff and carefully glooped it onto my throbbing, scabby lips, I knew, deep down in my core, that I was doing the right thing.

And I coasted for a week or two, customizing my tube by peeling off the label in a forceful post-modern statement of selective anonymity*.

And sure enough, my lips began to heal under that thick layer of numbing petroleum jelly. Soon, the painful, peeling crevices gave way to new, pliable pink skin, and I could yawn without feeling the need to punch a cinder-block wall in pain and frustration.

And then I went and lost my beloved tube, and had to go back to using the Neosporin crapola. Not having learned the lesson, I figured I was so far along the highway to healing that the Carmex wouldn't be required for the rest of the journey. Neosporin could ride shotgun, I thought, and, though he wouldn't be such a great conversationalist and would probably take his shoes off and stink up the whole car, he would at least be able to get me to my destination because he told me he was a decent navigator.

But those were lies -- dirty, slutty lies -- and within hours I was feigning, my lips and nose thirsty for the smooth Carmex vapors and their magical healing powers. So a replacement tube later, I was back to jelly-lipped bliss. And then, like some sort of lobotomized moron, I up and went to work today without my tube of joy, and had to stop at a gas station for yet another replacement tube, only to have to settle for a tube of Vaseline Lip Therapy, which is, by all accounts, a non-smelly, emotionally bereft, weak version of Carmex, but nowhere near as useless as the Neosporin stuff.

So, whilst at work, pondering the minutes that kept me separated from my beloved yellow tube at home, I got an e-mail from Sarah alerting me to a most brilliant piece of writing by a kindred soul. You should totally read it. Go ahead. I'll wait. No, wait, I'll pull out my favorite bits so you don't have to reach for the mouse just yet.

I was at camp when I was like eleven or twelve, and my lips got seriously chapped. Bad chapped. They were brown, crispy, cracked, bloody. Monstrous. Unholy. I got no play at spin the bottle. The word is unliplike. And when you're suffering from such a high degree of chappedness, all other aspects of life just fade into the background. Nothing becomes more important than soothing that sub-philtrum ache. So one fellow camper offered me (and I believe, perhaps wrongly, that this offer was out of the goodness of his heart and not a malicious "freebie") a fingerswipe of his Carmex. I'll never forget the distinctive clatter of the steel lid unwinding from the milky white glass jar, and the ethereally pale yellow color of the balm within.

And the smell.


Carmex is a product that promotes itself. It creates its own need. The more you use, the more you want. Has there ever been a televised commercial, print ad, radio jingle, or billboard for Carmex in its 60-year history? No. Because why bother with advertising? Once you pick up a jar (and yes, I, too, am disappointed by the new plastic version of the jar, which makes it seem feeble and effete when compared to the significant heft of the original glass, an item that could, in emergencies, be used as a cudgel or counterweight [and oh god let's not even mention the flaccid, laughable plastic tube]), you're a slave for life. Your body craves it, and you discover heretofore unseen reservoirs of rage whenever you can't get it:

Person A: Where's the Carmex?
Person B: I dunno.
Person A: [pause] What did you say?
Person B: Huh? I said...
Person A: My lips are dying here, you could, you know, like at least help me look for it.
Person B: Why don't you just settle down and...
Person A: No, you settle down, you hideous pig-person!
Person B: Maybe it's behind the nightstand.
Person A: I've always loathed you! Your ass is too big! (furious weeping, etc.)

...So here's what I want to know, Mr. Woelbing. You've already got me, I'm snared (and what is it? Is it the scent? Is it the alum or salicylic acid that does more damage than good to my lips? Do you really, as the urban legend goes, implant tiny shards of fiberglass within the smooth, creamy balm?). So please just tell me it's OK. That it's OK to want more, it's OK to keep a dozen jars stashed in various convenient locations (and if one of those locations happens to be That One Drawer with the condoms and special restraints, then that's OK, too, right?) to be there for me whenever I need it, or rather whenever it needs me, it's OK to dab a little bit under each nostril now and then, maybe take a (tiny!) taste once in awhile, perhaps use a dab to smooth down the errant eyebrow or to add that sexy gleam to an incisor? Tell me, Big Al, tell me it's all OK, that it's all about the pursuit of happiness, about satisfying primal urges and becoming a more complete modern American.

And that, friends, is how we got here, to a post about lip balm and the shocking but uncontested superiority of Carmex.

* The last part of this sentence, starting with the "in" prepositional phrase, is complete and utter bullshit, but it flowed so freely and made me laugh so hard that I had to leave it.


Blogger oskiesmom said...

That Angelina Jolie thing you wrote was the funniest thing I'd read before fake dog balls. *swak*

Thu Jan 26, 05:41:00 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

As a long time sufferer myself, the only thing that is quicker than Carmex is those vitamin E capsules. Get some of those, pop 'em and rub the oil on your lips. It's not overnight, but it only takes about 3 days for complete healing.

Thu Jan 26, 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger theogeo said...

O'mom, nothing but nothing shall ever top the fake dog balls post, not even mean-spirited celebrity-insult posts. I might as well give up hope. I've plateaued.

Cheryl, that is an excellent idea. Luckily, I think I'm more or less well now, but if this shite ever happens again, I'm going for the Vitamin E.

Thu Jan 26, 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger TVonthefritz said...

Who the fuck is Joey?

Thu Jan 26, 03:13:00 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Blistex Silk & Shine rocks my socks off, too - it doesn't have that "holy shit it's working I can feel it" sting that Carmex does, but it gets the job done.

Thu Jan 26, 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger phallicpen said...

The thing about Lip Smackers isn't real lip balm. It's alcohol mixed with vanilla frosting, which I understand has no healing properties past post-sex caloric replenishment.

Thu Jan 26, 11:04:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home