Monthly Archives: October 2010

Chapstick emergency averted

I’m a chapstick addict.

I love Burt’s Bees above all, and keep a tin on my bedside table and in my purse. I even keep an empty tin at work that I periodically sniff. It’s retained some of that peppermint scent, and when I smell it, it makes me happy to be alive.

If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes with me in person, you’ve seen me sniff a tin of Burt’s.

It’s what I do.

My husband has learned to carry a stick of Burt’s in his pocket in case I neglect to bring my purse while we’re out and about. “I need chapstick!” I will cry desperately. Calmly (the fruit of experience), he parries disaster with a quickly proferred yellow tube, which I gratefully slather all over my lips.

My second favorite kind of chapstick is Blistex.

I’ve tried (and own) Carmex, the regular chapstick brand, and other kinds of lip balm, but the Blistex “Medicated Mint Balm” is near the top of the charts. It’s more moist than Burt’s, so it’s great for smearing on over your lipstick without removing the color. I bought this product religiously at the Walgreens on Main Street when we lived in Delaware. However, when a little over a year ago we moved to Chicago, the “Medicated Mint” was nowhere to be found. Instead, a regular mint flavor with a darker blue colored tube abounded:

These Chicagoans–they just have no taste. The flavor and texture of this second kind might as well be called “Disappointment.”

I’ve been searching for the true kind of Blistex all year long, everywhere I go, but have been encountering the impostor at every turn. Finally, my very last tube of Medicated Mint was almost gone. I’d been drawing things out and going for the ‘slow death’ option because I couldn’t stand to think that my long and satisfying acquaintance with this product was about to be over. Forever. I had dug almost all the chapstick out of the lower recesses of the tube with my pen. Things were looking desperate.

I’m not sure if you can tell, but there are blue ink marks where I used the pen to dig out the balm.

No one can accuse me of being wasteful here, no sirree. My next step was going to be melting the stuff I couldn’t get out with a candle. Having soot-smeared chaptisky lips may not have been the most attractice option for my deathly pale complexion, but I was ready to do anything.

And then, on a warm fall afternoon, I went to a drugstore to buy both of my sisters birthday cards. And there are the checkout . . . was a bin of Blistex “Medicated Mint.” I swooned. I screamed. I slapped myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I swooned again. The checkout lady said “Ma’am, are you OK? Do you need medical attention?” My voice at a hysterical pitch, I shouted “Hahaha! Medical attention! No! More like medicated mint attention!” She looked so concerned I decided to take it down a notch. “Don’t worry, I’m fine, I’m doing great, this is great,” I reassured her, and made a grab for the entire bin before the guy behind me could interecept my move and take them all (which I was sure he was about to do). My face burning with gratitude and joy, I purchased 6 tubes of that stuff. It was all I could do not to break into song on the spot, convinced that all of nature would shortly join in with me. My only regret is that I didn’t purchase twice as many. Or thrice as many.

I’m not risking another potential loss of that magnitude.



P.S. The story of the checkout is pure fabrication. In truth, I purchased my 6 tubes quite calmly, but that doesn’t make for a very interesting story, does it? Plus, it’s still a truthful account in the sense that it expresses what was going on inside. I mean, I never said this was journalism, right? What I just did probably has a fancy name in the literary criticism circles–like “interiorization.” Or “allegorical account of the inner eye.” Or “the liminality of individual experience.” Very smart stuff. Right. Signing out. Have a great weekend, people.

A series of unsolved mysteries

Once upon a time, my sister Erica and I co-authored a book called “The Mad Tourist”. We obsessively returned to the phrase “it was destined to be the greatest unsolved mystery of his career,” and took great delight in inserting it in the most ludicrous contexts. Today, I am going to examine the greatest unsolved mysteries of my life. I have high hopes that via the inter-relational magic of the blogging world, someone out there may have answers for me. Could that someone be you? Ask yourself that question and report back to me.

Mystery #1

The tall Ethiopian man. He lives in our neighborhood, and wears a neon shirt (orange or green) and a tracksuit come rain or shine. He recently explanded his wardrobe to include a shirt with horizontal stripes–when I saw it, I was shocked. “Wow, a new shirt,” I mused as I walked to the train to go to work. “I wonder why he has a new shirt.”

About 2 weeks ago, on our way to the El stop in the morning, my husband and I spotted him in a new all-yellow tracksuit that was shining like the very sun itself. “Hey, look at our friend,” my husband said. “Wow,” I said. “Yeah,” he said. “Uh huh,” I added. I mean, this is a lot of new clothes happening after a whole year of just two shirts. Something is going on here.

Every day I see him walking up and down the block calmly, contemplatively, frequently with his hands in his pockets. He is almost invariably alone. I rarely see him interacting with anyone. Does he have a job? Is he the ‘lookout guy’ for some kind of neighborhood ‘dealio’ that I shouldn’t really be mentioning or inquiring into? Does he really just walk around the neighborhood, all day long? Or do we just happen to catch him when we’re ambling around, and he’s equally curious about why we seem to always be walking about? Does he have an identical blog post . . . but about me? “Saw that weird looking freckled girl again . . . looks like she finally got a new coat after a year of wearing the rattiest looking grey carpet sack you can imagine. . . she couldn’t stop looking at my new yellow tracksuit, not sure what’s up with that  . . . wonder if she’s the lookout girl for some kind of neighborhood ‘dealio’ since she’s always walking around . . . I mean, what does she do all day? Does she have a job, or what? . . . “

Once after returning from a walk on the beach I saw him standing in front of a “No Outlet” sign–as I passed, he pointed at this sign and laughed aloud.

There was nobody else around to witness this laugh.

If you are that Ethiopian man and you are reading this, who are you please? Do you have a family? What do you do all day? My husband suggested that maybe you are our neighborhood’s guardian angel. Please confirm at your earliest convenience.

Mystery #2

This picture of my new brother-in-law Dave. Could somebody please explain?

What?? And why?

I mean, why is he holding that pig? Did the pig come from the bucket on the right? Or is the pig going into the bucket on the right? Does the pig love Dave as much as Dave appears to love the pig? Is the pig enjoying the tight embrace, or is the pig actually struggling to escape Dave’s vise-like grip? Why is Dave so upset? Is this a “Charlotte’s Web” story in which the runt of the litter is going to be slaughtered and Dave realized via a magical spider that this pig was Something Special?

Thank you for your assistance.

Mystery #3

Where does the dirt come from? Where???

(By the way, my husband–bless his manly heart–totally didn’t get this mystery when I asked him to proof my post. “Huh?” he said. “It doesn’t make sense. What dirt?” And then I laughed and laughed and cried and laughed some more. I’m happy for him . . . really. If I were oblivious to the dust constantly settling on the furniture 2 seconds after I wipe it down, my life might be a happier place.)

Mystery #4

Supposedly this is me at 7 years old.

But I demand a careful investigation–what? Who? How? Whence? Forthwith?

Run for the hills! That’s all I can say.

Mystery #5

My extended family. During the reception at my sister’s very-blogged-about wedding this past July, my cousin Charles and his wife Rachel got up to demonstrate how kissing should be done. This is what happened. First, a running leap into Charles’ arms . . .

. . . and then a passionate dip. Please look closely at the faces of the people watching.

What mutations in the genetic line produced such . . . ballsiness? Daring? Panache? Utterly unabashed showmanship? And even worse–do I have those impulses somewhere inside me, and will they surface with a bang in an embarrassing episode I will never live down?

Charles, Rachel–you have earned my undying admiration. Wow.

Update: Charles and Rachel have just announced they are having a baby! I couldn’t be more excited, and I’m desperately trying not to do the math that takes us back in time 3 months . . . right about to Erica’s wedding weekend. OK.

In the next day or two, I will be setting up a toll-free hotline (1-800-JENNAS-UNSOLVED-MYSTERIES, or 1-800-536627-86765833-697837437). If you think you have the answer to any of these questions, please dial in using the touch tone menu. Representatives will be standing by. I considered offering a cash reward for answers, but decided to use it to buy a fancy coffee for myself at Starbucks instead–I hope you’ll understand.