Without fail, every time the temperature drops below 70 degrees my lips start to chap. Nothing has ever prevented this from happening. As soon as the season starts to shift from summer to fall, I start applying lip balm like a madwoman in a vain attempt to stop my lips from turning into cracked and reddened monsters that demand moisture every 10 seconds. It rather feels like going around with the plant from "Little Shop of Horrors" attached to my face. Every minute of the day, I can hear them screaming "FEED ME!!" (well, to be more accurate they actually scream "HYDRATE ME!!!", but that doesn't sound as funny), and I frantically delve into my purse or pockets in search of more balm.
I've tried every kind of lip balm out there. Chapstick doesn't really do much for me. Nor do the super fancy healing balms that proclaim they're so good that you'll practically sprout a lush tropical oasis in the middle of your face, complete with tiny waterfall. No, my balm of choice is Burt's Bees. I'm addicted to the stuff. In the event of a zombie uprising, those little yellow tubes will become to me what twinkies were to Woody Harrelson's character in "Zombieland". I will gather all of the balms that I can and hole myself up for the rest of my life, converting the empty tubes into miniature pipe bombs (pipe balms?) to defend my territory.
The weather has edged into the cooler temperatures, and one morning I felt the annoying tingle in my lips that meant if I didn't start slapping on the balm NOW, I'd suffer for it. I dug around in my purse, and...nothing. I rooted through my car. Nothing. I turned every purse in my closet upside down, in hopes of finding some balm.
See, we moved back in Spring. Somewhere in the shuffle, my container of extra lip balms vanished. I had one tube left, and hadn't bothered replacing it because I was simply too busy to think about it. But I knew I had another tube somewhere, because I'd used it just the other day. Perhaps I'd left it at work, I thought, or it had rolled under the couch. Trying to ignore the ever-increasing demands of my lips, I started pulling laundry from the washing machine. As I yanked pairs of jeans out of the washer, I heard it..a telltale "plonk..rattle rattle" in the barrel of the washing machine.
I peered inside, and there it was. My precious yellow tube of lip balm, ruined beyond all hope. I uncapped it and sniffed it, and it had turned into a squishy gooey substance that smelled like fabric softener.
In the back of my mind, my lips shrieked "Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!"
It was OK, I reasoned. I'd be at the mall the next day, and there would surely be a store that sold more balm there. I'd be stuck there for a few hours, since my husband's car was in the shop and we were carpooling until it was fixed. He got out of work after I did, so I'd just kill time by window shopping until he was ready.
The next day I roamed the mall, licking my now cracked and flaking lips over and over, unable to stop myself even though I knew it would make them worse. Waldenbooks, I thought. They sold my preferred brand of lip balm. I knew I could find salvation there. I fairly trotted down the mall corridor, my mind focused on that one goal: obtaining more lip balm. I had to have it. Could imagine myself ripping the plastic seal from around the cap and ringing my mouth with sweet, sweet moisturizing manna from heaven.
Unfortunately for me, it didn't quite work out that way. I saw the display of balm at the register and grabbed one precious tube, clutching it like it was the holy grail. But there was no one at the register. I waited, growing increasingly anxious as the seconds ticked by and no one appeared to take my money. I looked around the store, but could see no employee anywhere. The woman behind me became impatient and actually started calling out for help, but no one came. It was like we'd entered into some alternate dimension where the book store was staffed by no one. I waited for two full minutes before I finally realized that I would not, in fact, be getting my balm from there. Dejected, I put it back into the display and left the store, mind frantically scrambling to think of where I could obtain more.
It was the mall, I thought. Surely some other store in the entire mall sold plain lip balm, right? Right??? I went the Hallmark store, where I discovered that Yankee Candle had started making lip balm. It came in tiny tubes that were shaped like the candle jars, and the flavors apparently were the more popular food related candle scents. It was also something like $5.95 for an incredibly small amount of balm, and I couldn't into the whole idea of smearing my lips with something that looked like a miniature candle and smelled like one, too. I went to Sephora, next, where I was reminded of the time I went to Victoria's Secret in search of a a plain half-slip. You see, Sephora simply does not do plain lip balm. if it's not glittery, tinted, plumping, or $45 a tube, they don't have it. With a sense of rising panic, I tried every department store, gift store, and kiosk in the mall. No one sold Burt's Bees, except for Waldenbooks, which was still evidently without a clerk manning the register.
I was now completely obsessed with finding lip balm. I got into my car and drove to store after store in the area, finding nothing. By that point I was so desperate that all I could think about was my increasingly chapped lips. Really, this is why I've never even tried anything addictive like cigarettes or alcohol. I'd probably go from "person who enjoys an occasional drink" to "raging alcoholic who drinks vodka at work" in a matter of days. My single-minded focus on things is useful in some situations, but when it's centered on something I do not have and cannot obtain, it only makes things worse.
Eventually I gave up my search, and went to my husband's place of work feeling completely dejected. I slumped on a stool and contemplated my misery, my lips now a mass of cracked and burning skin. My husband sighed, told his co-workers "I'll be right back", and came back 15 minutes later with a tube of Burt's Bees, having gone to Waldenbooks and hunted down the missing clerk, who apparently waited on him with great reluctance.
This, my friends, is why I married him. Also, because he cooks, and were it not for him I'd exist entirely on boxed macaroni and cheese and cereal.
I've since stocked up on balm, and am trying to remember to check my pockets before I toss my jeans in the washing machine. Hopefully these things will prevent me from turning into a gibbering idiot, standing on a street corner with a cardboard sign that proclaims my willingness to work for Burt's Bees.