Ointments, Salves, Lotions and Other Mysteries of Life

Posted on July 21, 2014



A friend of Life in the Boomer Lane, another woman-of-a-certain-age, was out of town, staying in a hotel, and preparing to meet her first ex-husband for lunch. In spite of the fact that there would be no interest on either of their parts for hanky panky (the vintage way of saying “sex,” not the popular brand of underwear found on one’s lower half), She still wanted to look her best.  She showered and applied body lotion.  A nagging feeling told her that something was amiss. She picked up the small hotel-provided bottle of body lotion again, this time squinting at the tiny words. She had applied hair conditioner all over her body.  There was nothing left to do but get dressed, go out to meet her ex, and hope it didn’t rain and cause her to begin sudsing.

Several days later, another friend of LBL called, in a pickle (the vintage way of saying a conundrum, not the popular item found on one’s plate next to a pastrami sandwich).  She had picked up two prescriptions from the pharmacy, driven home, and brought them into the bathroom.  A close inspection of each tube revealed nothing that would help her to distinguish the rash cream from the ointment that was supposed to be placed inside her hoo-ha.  The phrases “Apply as needed,” “For excessive itching,” “Seek medical attention if swallowed” or “Stay away from other humans if pustules develop” did not help to solve the mystery.

LBL can relate.  She has spent more time than she cares to admit, staring at tubes, vials and containers, trying to figure out which of her body parts should be the first in line for application and/or ingestion. In her closet are several small containers of a line of hair and body lotions she pilfered from a hotel bathroom. The line is called “Pure.”  LBL believes this word applies to anything one could possibly want to come into contact with one’s body. There is one exception, but this is a family blog. But no matter how long she stares at the bottles, she still cannot decide which is the shampoo, which is the conditioner, which is the body lotion, and which is the sunscreen. The bottles continue to sit, unused.  LBL holds out hope that one day, they will identify themselves.

In her closet are several travel bottles that LBL filled for various trips, then placed back into the closet and completely forgot what was in them. She refuses to empty the bottles, because they might come in handy when she runs out of something.  But she doesn’t know what she would be running out of that would necessitate their use.

There is also a bottle of either eye drops or ear drops or nose drops. LBL knows the difference between her eyes and her ears and her nose, and she also knows that she can’t eat of them, but, beyond that, she hasn’t made any further progress.

For some strange reason even she cannot fathom, LBL often takes the contents of over-the-counter-meds out of their boxes and is left with cards containing vacuum-packed little pills. The flip sides of the cards often do nothing to identify what the pills are to be used for.

Over the years, there have been countless unmarked plastic containers in LBL’s freezer. She has thawed out many such containers and is invariably met with disappointment over their contents, since most of them turn out to be things like chicken fat . Once thawed, the contents demand to be dealt with, adding insult to injury.

LBL is trying to convince herself to toss all mystery items in her life. But if she did that, along with all the bottles and jars and tubes in the linen closet and all the plastic containers in the freezer, she would have to include old photos of unidentified family members, coats and jackets left behind by unknown guests, unlabeled paint cans in the garage, and a whole lot more.  When she thinks about it, she can feel herself start to peter out (the vintage way of saying to become tired, not the popular pastime of males between the ages of 18 and 94).