Back in the day when I was serious about being a flute player, I was mildly obsessed with chapped lips. Especially so in the dry winter. Chapped lips could make everything terrible. I would whine about chapped lips to my teacher as the reason for my inability to do things and she would snap back, “Are you going to stand on stage at Carnegie Hall and tell everyone to cut you some slack because you have chapped lips? No!”*
Lip gloss was too sticky, Chap-Stick too waxy, and the color in lipstick got all over my flute (and consequently my chin) so I was stuck with the basics. I carried around a small pot of Vaseline, and used it regularly. It worked. It worked well. I still use Vaseline.
My daughter is now a flute player, and similarly obsessed with ensuring that her lips don’t get chapped. She is also way cooler and more popular and prettier and hip and happening than I ever was or could ever hope to be. In fact, she’s so hip and happening that she would die if she knew that I was using the phrase “hip and happening” to describe her. So she’s not going to carry around petroleum jelly, even though it does come in cherry flavors and in forms other than a little rectangular pot nowadays.
She’s obsessed with Eos, which is a brand of lip balm. It comes in a little ovoid package with a flat bottom, in a rainbow of colors and flavors. What I didn’t know, until I looked it up to write this, was that Eos is actually an acronym for “Evolution of Smooth” and the little round package is called a “Smooth Sphere.” I also only just learned that you can get “Organic Smooth Spheres,” “Shimmer Smooth Spheres,” “Visibly Soft Smooth Spheres,” and “Active Protection Smooth Spheres.” What you do when you want to be both visibly soft and actively protected, perhaps with a bit of shimmer, we may never know.
Truly, it is marketing genius. They’re pretty little things, kind of like Easter eggs, only with fruity smelling mounds of lip balmy goodness inside instead of dew-soaked jelly beans. Convinced there is a real substantive difference between “blackberry nectar” and “fresh grapefruit,” like Pokemon, she feels like she’s gotta catch ‘em all. I think we have like 20 or so of them. She flips them on to the grocery conveyor belt when I’m not looking, and since they’re only three bucks I don’t grumble much. She keeps them lined up on the bathroom counter. Also in her pockets and in her backpack. I can say from personal experience that they weather the washing machine – and dryer – and maintain their utility well enough.
I’ll probably still stick to Vaseline, if for no other reason than a 79 cent pot of it might last me three years or more. But if a three dollar “smooth sphere” is going to make her feel confident and convince her to stay musical, I’m all in.
*I think of her saying this often. Although she meant it literally, it is a great metaphor for using excuses, even legitimate ones. When the curtain rises, you just have to perform no matter how literally or metaphorically chapped your lips might be.
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