To stop smacking my lips
I gave it up cold turkey in February. I simply stopped dabbing ChapStick on my lips, ending a habit that must be over forty years old. (I remember having a tube of ChapStick—the old metal tube—in my pocket in high school.) Just like that I rang the curtain down on an addiction that has seen several clothes-ruining episodes of ChapStick tumbling about in the washer and dryer. Just like that I gave up the sensuous comfort of wax-slickened lips.
For the most part, anyway. There's still a tube in my pocket, just for safety's sake. Just in case the withdrawals become too acute.
I've slipped only once. No, really, only once. It happened without thinking. It was cold early in the morning, the wind had picked up, and I bustled into my office sniffing and snorting. My lips were dry and I was entirely on autopilot as my hand snatched the ChapStick from my pocket and I was swiping away at my everted epithelium before suddenly realizing that I was falling off the wagon.
That happened last week. It was my one slip during the past six weeks, which means I lasted over four weeks before the unconscious backsliding. If I had been brave enough to banish the ChapStick from my pocket it would not have occurred.
But it's still there, there in my pocket, tempting me.
I fell into this long-term habit quite innocently, of course. My mother noticed that I had given up chewing my nails (a grammar school habit) and moved on to chewing my lips. Chewed-up nails might be unattractive, but chewed-up lips are even worse. It was Mom who took me in hand and introduced me to the sleek enamel-black tube with the white cap. Soon a tube of ChapStick was my constant companion and I was routinely repairing my labial damage with anointings of processed beeswax and petrolatum. Bliss!
Not even the annoyingly perky Suzy Chaffee commercials of the 1970s (“You can call me ‘Suzy ChapStick’!”) could drive me away from my new addiction. I was hooked and loving it.
Over the decades, though, I began (very slowly) to consider the nature of my chemical bondage and the degree to which ChapStick had enslaved me. What it popped up in a Katy Perry song (“the taste of her Cherry ChapStick”), I realized how ChapStick had become an unremarked element of our social fabric and environmental background, taken completely for granted. Perhaps that sparked an element of rebellion and helped me recognize my dependency. I stopped using it. Next, I'll stop putting it in my pocket every morning. No more ChapStick.
But I still want it!