Some of y’all may have been around for The Mentholatum Crisis of 2010, an absolutely harrowing time when our Walgreens and our Walmart stopped carrying my beloved Mentholatum, a product that I’ve depended on to soothe chapped lips and treat various other ailments since I was a child. Mentholatum is a tradition on my mama’s side of the family, and by my best estimation it has been used WITH ENTHUSIASM by at least four generations of Davises. In fact, the last time I saw my cousin Paige – who is Mama’s sister’s daughter – there was a jar of Mentholatum on her nightstand. Sister adheres to the same code. IT’S THE DAVIS WOMEN’S WAY.
And just in case you’re reading this and thinking, Yeah, right. No way is she that attached to some Vicks VapoRub-type product, let me just assure you that oh yes I most certainly am. Last year I was at .MOM, I think, when a bloggy friend saw me dig a jar of Mentholatum out of my purse, and she responded by saying, “Oh my goodness – you really do use it!” It made me laugh, because listen: if I were going to make up some details about my life, I’d come up with a mighty tall tale about how I’d actually gotten used to wearing size 4 blue jeans but now they’re all just entirely too big. I don’t really think that “borderline addiction to an over-the-counter vaporized ointment favored by nursing home residents” would necessarily be the story I would choose to invent.
(And also, just to be clear, MENTHOLATUM IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM VICKS. I’ll refrain from boring you with all the subtle nuances of Mentholatum, but if Vicks is a menthol train that barrels down the tracks, then Mentholatum is more of a lightly vapor-scented Volkswagen Bug that rarely speeds but honks occasionally just to say hey. It’s much milder. And friendlier.)
Fortunately, I guess, the 2010 Mentholatum shortage occurred a few weeks before my birthday, and as a result some of my friends and family members visited their various drugstores in their various towns and wrapped up boxes of Mentholatum as birthday presents. I don’t know when I’ve been more delighted, and by the middle of that October I had an impressive Mentholatum stockpile. I felt a little bit like those people who are fully prepared to go totally off the grid at any given moment, only instead of having hundreds of cases of water or a lifetime supply of canned goods, I was equipped to handle any lip care (or chest cold!) emergency that might come my way.
It’s not necessarily a recognized strategy for dealing with unexpected civil unrest, but I feel that it’s an important one.
That stockpile of Mentholatum lasted almost two years, and a couple of months ago, when I was at the Walgreens looking for something or other, I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were carrying Mentholatum again. I bought a box of it, mainly just to celebrate its reappearance, and for most of the summer I’ve held unswervingly to the promise of a fall and winter with a full-to-the-brim inventory of Mentholatum at our Walgreens.
Today I ran in Walgeens to look for some mascara, and as I made my way over to the cashew / pistachio / smoked almonds portion of the store, I saw this sale tag. I was not even a little bit happy. I may have even trembled in my flip-flops.
WHAT IN THE WORLD DOES AMERICA’S COLD CARE INDUSTRY HAVE AGAINST ME?
WHAT IF I AM NOT EMOTIONALLY EQUIPPED TO HANDLE MY “LAST CHANCE” WITH THE MENTHOLATUM?
There were only three boxes on the shelf (not counting that one over to the right, which, just between us, was BROKE DOWN), so I had no choice but to start another stockpile.
I’m not normally so excessive with my sale purchases, but desperate times, etc. I just don’t have any way of knowing if they’ll ever start carrying the Mentholatum again, and when it comes to maintaining your lip care standards, there’s no such thing as being too prepared.