Sunday, January 04, 2009

Minding my own beeswax

Next month will mark 14 years since I last had a drink of alcohol (no thanks to super douchebag chef Alain Ducasse for marring that streak last year -- see "What a Ducasshole!" blog). It will also be nearly 17 years since I quit smoking and 19 since I dabbled in drugs. During the intervening years, I've had an ocean of Sprite while steering clear of new addictions such as fantasy football and all-you-can-eat buffets.

And yet, my mind somehow managed to sneak in a very big one, right under my nose: lip balm.

Before today, moistening my lips with Burt's Bees honey lip balm was something I did every 10 minutes or so without thinking. But, while applying the gooey sweetness this afternoon, I remembered a seemingly-inconsequential exchange I'd had over the holiday with my Mom:

Sitting on her couch in RI, my Mom casually mentioned a story she'd seen on TV about lip balm addiction and how it reminded her of me. "Really? Why?" She raised an "are you kidding me?" eyebrow and returned to watching the "On Demand" yule log on TV. I went back to applying lip balm.

One week later, there I was, reaching for the Burt's Bees that's permanently stationed below the radio in my car. I recounted the story to my Man, who was sitting in the passenger seat, also applying lip balm. He scoffed at the idea. "Lip balm addiction. Please."

The idea continued to fester in my head. I Googled "lip balm addiction" on my BlackBerry and somehow managed an epiphany while weaving through heavy traffic on the BQE into Manhattan: "Christ on a moped, I've replaced alcohol and cigarettes with lip balm!"

Granted, enjoying my stick of goo won't ever have me wondering, "where did I park my house?" or "is this tracheotomy really necessary?" -- but it's still an oral fixation not unlike all the others I'd been so careful to quit.

And, I'm pretty sure it's an addiction: I tried going without it for the 20-minute ride home...and failed. Maybe it was the 28-degree weather outside or dry, heated air in the car but my lips "cracked" like Pookie in New Jack City with just one mile to go.


Smoking my tube of beeswax and then basking in the post-moisture high.

So, now what? Do I give this up, too? Take a Burt's Bees inventory and throw the cracksticks into the heap along with vodka and Marlboro Lights? That's crazy! I mean, even if I did, it'd take for-f'n-ever to unearth all of my sticky stashes -- there's a lot of honey lip goo flowing around here.

Consider this cursory glance around the apartment:
1. living room, on the stand near the couch
2. living room, hanging on the wall in my coat pocket
3. bedroom, on the bedside stand near my side of the bed
4. bedroom, on the desk by the computer
5. den, on the desk by the laptop
6. den, on the bottom book shelf
7. bathroom, two tubes still in packaging
8. dining room, at the bottom of my purse
9. dining room, in the outside zipper of my purse
10. right pocket of the hoodie currently on my body

Aside from being a great exercise to teach kids prepositional phrases, it's also a terrifying survey of lips whose thirst for beeswax seems unquenchable.

And, that doesn't even begin to touch the staggering number of J/A/S/O/N and Burt's Bees tubes in the apartment that belong to my Man, who is a bigger balmhead than me. He WEARS a tube of lip balm around his neck like a lifeguard, for crying out loud. His misplacement of my goo has led to many panic-stricken moments in which I race around the apartment like an asthmatic desperately searching for an inhaler. At this rate, our children might need lip balm in utero instead of amniotic fluid.

While I don't like the idea of being addicted, I guess there are worse things I could rub on my mouth every 10 minutes, like dog shit or random body parts (mine or otherwise). Today's realization just struck me as being a cruel joke: try as we might, we can never truly be free of addictions. Freedom is an illusion disguised as choice: good or bad, CVS or crackhouse, moisturized lips or black lung?

Addendum
I applied lip balm no less than 20 times while writing this blog. Thinking about it seems to trigger the impulse to apply. I'll bet fellow balmheads applied several times while reading.

Surprisingly, there's a lot of attention being paid to this topic by reputable media outlets (the Washington Post -- really?). Just a quick search online turns up a few interesting nuggets:

Get over your lip balm addiction
By Julia Feldmeier | Special to The Washington Post
December 28, 2008
(which concludes with) Reach instead for your water bottle. Most of us don't drink enough water, and the hydration will only help your lips.

Beating Your Addiction (from the BBC)
(which claims) Lip balm addiction is just another form of substance abuse. Over time you become dependent on it, and getting out involves some necessary and unavoidable discomfort. In truth, you don't need the product, because most of the time you create your own problem - by licking your lips.

Lip Balm Anonymous (a parody set up in '95 by a Web developer)
Lip Balm Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other so that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from their addiction. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using lip balm and there are never any fees for membership as we are self supported through our own contributions. We are not affiliated with any sect, denomination, political organization, or institution.

Are Lip Balms Addictive? (a special page on Blistex.com)
(lots of blurbs from the media poo-pooing the idea of lip balm addiction) Excerpted from the Australian edition of Cosmopolitan Magazine, December, 2002:
"Since dry lips can be a chronic condition and balms provide immediate relief, habitual use may feel like an addiction," says David Leffell, a professor of dermatology at Yale University. "But there's no ingredient that causes a true chemical dependency."

2 comments:

Liz said...

Ok, the 'helpful tips' on drinking water, etc, are not effective at all. It's like telling me to drink more water for my Vicodin addiction. The tips also do not address how the balm makes your lips look, which is wonderful. Does water do that, BBC?

Also, now that I have FB friended you and found your blog, I feel the need to give you mine as well.

http://troubledanger.com/?p=7

http://www.examiner.com/x-8510-Real-Relationship-Examiner

Punkapoo said...

I know, right? "Drink water" - as if. Reminded me of Chris Rock's "pour some Robutussin on it...mo' 'Tussin!" bit. So, in short, your humor is f'n awesome -I subscribed to your Examiner blog but can't figure out the TroubleDanger site (I'm special like that) although I managed to read the diet pill post - LMFAO! Highlights:

At 8:36 am I completely oiled myself.

That movement caused my ass cheeks to spread ever so slightly, which was apparently all the oil needed to charge full speed ahead.

The texture was the same. Imagine pouring vegetable oil into the carcass of a large pig, letting it sit for a week or two, and then imagine that very same liquid being somehow expelled from your body.

Would I recommend it? Only if you aren’t having sex (because God knows it would be a nightmare if you oiled your partner) or if you are ok wearing an adult diaper and smelling like the absolute worst smell known to humankind.

Yes, the ephedra in Hydroxycut had made her listen to Kenny Chesney. Much like the Orlistat in Alli made me stop dating for a month, ruined my pants, and forced me to quietly switch out my chair for one in the conference room.