Nothing screams winter like a bad case of chapped lips. In Ottawa, where we are typically in sub-zero bone-dry cold air for weeks at a time, keeping an assortment of lip balms within reach is an essential. It only takes one missed application to get lips so dry, you can grate Parmesan on them.
When I don’t take the necessary precautions, there have been times I have looked in the mirror and thought my winter lips bore a striking resemblance to my cat’s scratching post, with unruly pieces sticking out of vertically shredded bits. I don’t feel too bad though because I know I’m not alone.
Over the years I have tried a number of lip balms including some pretty expensive ones, and to my surprise, the one that seems to work best for me is the basic, classic, unflavoured Chap Stick. The challenge is keeping track of those little guys.
I don’t know why, but I can’t have just one Chap Stick and move it to wherever I am. Even if it travels in the same circles as my keys, my wallet and my iPhone, for some reason it keeps escaping.
As Murphy’s Law will have it, it always seems to go missing at those critical times when I am one emphatic smile away from a cracked lip and a trail of blood.
I once had a hole in a coat pocket that seemed to be a magnet for my Chap Sticks as one by one, they escaped through the hole and got lodged between the outer layer and the lining. The rescue mission to try to retrieve them was like delicate surgery, complete with bright lights and an assortment of tweezer-like extraction tools, to not make the hole any bigger while trying to squeeze the lip balms back up the coat and out of the hole. This is one of the activities I like to call “fun on a ‘snow day’ ”.
Another version of fun came in the form of an intense clean-up mission after forgetting a Chap Stick in a pair of jeans and subjecting the garment to a warm wash load. It was most fortunate that jeans with a waxy finish were in style at that time, because I fit right in with the trend.
Keeping multiple Chap Sticks scattered throughout the home and office seems to be the only way to stay ahead of the game, but the trick is to do it without having one’s décor referred to as “Chap Stick Stickley” or “Lip Balm Bohemian”.
But yet, it still takes one absent-minded, not-in-the-moment moment to put a Chap Stick back in the wrong place to start a cascading effect of misplaced Chap Sticks, resulting in them all somehow congregating in one room. When that happens, I chalk it up to the idea that they missed each other and that a family reunion was necessary.
In an effort to stem the tide of misplacement, I toyed with the idea of getting chains for them like the banks do with pens, but there’s nothing on the smooth, slick exterior of a Chap Stick on which you can hook up a chain. Taking out the bright lights and surgical equipment to install hooks on each Chap Stick seems like a bit of overkill, but what a great idea for a family craft project for a snow day!
When I think of more contemporary solutions, when we have technology that can close curtains, turn off lights, program our PVR and have conversations with our pets from half way around the world, why don’t we have an app for tracking our missing Chap Sticks?
After a long winter of chronically misplaced Chap Sticks I’ve often thought of changing the Easter ritual from Easter egg hunts to the Easter Chap Stick hunts, and make the family’s kids look in every nook and cranny in the house for the twenty-seven Chap Sticks that seem to be lurking in places unknown.
I am so grateful to have the right tool to deal with an Ottawa winter’s chapped lips and that I am able to remember to use it before my lips are too far gone. But keeping track of Chap Sticks may continue to be a challenge until some great inventor comes along to propose find the solution that makes it impossible to lose one… or twenty-seven.
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Have a great day,