Chapsticks on my Person, Ranked

I was once the kind of person who generally carried around a bag; at present I am the kind of person with several secret pockets inside of my jacket (and sometimes an unwieldy and age-inappropriate backpack). Both items have served, primarily, to carry my chapsticks, as I am never without at least five on my person at any given time. These chapsticks are my children and my legacy, and it is my only wish to have them interred with me when my time comes, to serve me in the afterlife. I have not felt the naked texture of my own lips since 2003.

Ol’ Reliable

Burt’s Bees, pomegranate flavor. Has not yet been through the washing machine. Lives either in the right front pants pocket, left outside jacket pocket, or lost somewhere in my bedding. Once overheated in the car so about a third of the stick is glued to the inside of the cap, but the remaining stublet was easy enough to smooth out and get back up and running. Solid, reliable, workmanlike, no-nonsense, brisk like an old 1940s nurse in a war movie who keeps checking her watch.

The Emergency

Unflavored, or with those weird crystalline sort of granules just under the surface. Either someone gave it to me in an emergency or it came as a free side with some face lotion and I didn’t have the heart to throw it away. Only ever used if I go on a trip at the last minute and forget to pack any of the good ones, so it’s forever associated with a deeply unpleasant trip to West Texas. Keeps me humble and prepared to run at any moment.

The Deceiver

Burt’s Bees peppermint flavor. Has a nearly-identical red cap, and has tricked me more than once.


He lives on the floor. I will never pick him up. In every well-prepared home, there needs to be one chapstick on the floor.

The Washing-Machine Stray

Grizabella, poor soul, saturated with laundry-water and nearly label-less. Her eyes haunt me – pleading, accusing – they give me no rest – I keep her ever by my heart, in my breast pocket, that she may be accorded the dignity of an old favorite, who no longer has the power to please.

The Untouchable

I’ve only used it enough that the little divot or whatever in the middle has just barely begun to lift off from the smooth, pressed surface, and I live in fear of poking myself with the divot. Once the divot emerges, you can swipe the resultant gunk from it at every pass with a tissue or, if you’re having an especially difficult time just getting through the day, but the divot has not yet emerged, which means I cannot use it, which means the divot will never emerge. How shy we are of one another.

The Taken-For-Granted-Primary-Partner Who Does All The Household’s Heavy Lifting But Receives A Disproportionately Small Amount Of My Gratitude And Affection In Return

She loses mass by the day – any day now I will scrape my lips against the sides only to find there is nothin left in the tube. When that day comes, I will cast her aside without a thought. There is no worse feeling than reaching into a pocket only to come with a near-empty chapstick tube, with all the heft and solidity of a clipped fingernail.

The Show Pony

A coquette! No hint of paraffin has ever breached her ingredients list, no wax, no inexplicable particles of sand cling to her wheeling mechanism. A special place for her and her alone in the smallest front backpack pocket, next to the tacky silver rings I only wear when I’m feeling nervous.

I like to watch them. They fill me with joy. The first I felt it I thought I was going to die. I said to the Red Bull I must have them, all of them, all there are. For nothing makes me happy but their shining and their grace. So the Red Bull caught them. Each time I see the chapsticks, my chapsticks, it is like that morning in the woods and I am truly young, in spite of myself.