A little bit of chapstick and a re-release of Ramsey Lewis' greatest hits from the 1960's transported me to my childhood faster than I imagined possible. I know from experience that a smell or a song has that effect. In fact, I've often read in women's magazines that vanilla candles are so soothing because they remind people of the smell of baking when they were children. Hmmm. That makes me a little paranoid about the memories I'm creating for my children, because I have a propensity for burning dinner. Oh well.
Anyway, I was listening to the CD in the car, enjoying the jazzy piano and toe-tapping beat. I found a tube of chapstick sitting in the ashtray (who smokes anymore?—it's a coin tray!) and put it on. Now, consider the variety of chapstick flavors. I've seen grape and cherry, and all kinds of moisturizing blends with aloe, unscented, medicated—the combinations are endless. But my favorite is the one that is very creamy and has some medication that makes my lips tingle. Gotta love that tingle, it means that it's working. In fact, that tingle is addictive because when I have that kind of chapstick I use it all the time. For about a week I have some nice plump luscious lips, and then I lose the tube.
So here I am listening to "Wade in the Water" and applying chapstick while zooming along at 70 mph headed into the city. The minute I got the first smear of goop onto my lips I knew that it was going to be a blast from the past. This wasn't the good stuff; it was the plain waxy original! I didn't even know it was still sold. You know the one I mean, with the black label and the weird crayon-like textured 'why doesn't it go on smoothly" glob. It even left little lumps where the wax had clumped around some of the dead peeling lips. Gross.
The smell: its unique waxy paraffin-like smell awakened my mind to something that had a similar scent. I didn't have to think long before I remembered. I was instantly transported to my childhood days in Pastorita, the nickname for the neighborhood where so many Cubans settled when arriving in Atlanta. There, I experienced the joys of eating Pirulis that my parents would buy from the bodega en "el Rinconcito" which catered to us. They have a hunk of wax on the bottom, holding the candy in place. Did you ever bite into that? Ewww. I also experienced the melting pot firsthand, learning from my new American friends the wonders of Wax Lips. They were great fun to wear, but after a while, we bit through the mouth piece. I had friends who would chew the lips. Another gross thing. I could never bring myself to do that, which is why I hate chapstick today.
The flood of memories was better than any morning show. I remembered people I hadn't thought about in years, and remembered a time in my life when pretending and having a good time was my job. I still had to go to work, but it sure made the commute more enjoyable.