If I were going to be stranded on an island and could only take two things with me…I’d take these two things. Coffee and chapstick. I need these two things like a crappy diaper needs changed. These two things and I go way back. Maybe it’s the nostalgia that keeps us together? I don’t know exactly, but what I do know is that these two things help make my world go ’round for so many reasons, and without them, well, let’s just say it’s not pleasant.
I have chapstick, and a lot of it. I have chapstick inside my pillow case (for those nights I wake up and need a little moisturizer), on my nightstand (sometimes I just don’t feel like fooling around with the chapstick in my pillow case), at least two in my purse, in my car, bathroom drawer, the junk drawer in the kitchen, in the basket that holds the remote controls that sits on my coffee table, and of course, the emergency chapstick I keep stashed in the garage in my fishing tackle box.
The emergency chapstick is my least favorite of them all because it’s the medicated flavor. This flavor is worse for your lips than good especially if used over a long period of time. In fact, medicated chapstick can damage your lips and make them feel chapped even when they’re not! However, if all else fails and for some reason every single one of my strategically placed chapsticks go MIA, I have plan B available. Or plan H, whichever way you see it.
Chapstick is an addiction. At least to me and my mom it is, and I think it could possibly be a hereditary addiction since she is an addict also. My mom…she’s so funny…when I go to visit she almost always has a new chapstick lying around somewhere, and since I’m a chapstick Bloodhound, I’ll sniff it out. She’s learned, though, which types I’ll use and which types I won’t. Since she thinks “chapstick is chapstick” she’s begun to buy the kinds I don’t like so they remain safely in their places. I’m like, “geesh, mom…quit jipping me on the chapstick when I come for a visit” and she’s like “dammit…quit stealing my stuff!” She’s now learned to go through my purse to retrieve what I’ve stolen.
I was around 11-years-old when I had my first cup of coffee. Every morning at my grandparents house I would wake up to the aroma of brewing coffee. I’d stagger downstairs, turn the corner and see my grandpa sitting at the kitchen table with black coffee in one hand and the Lima News in the other. On occasion the coffee would find its place on the table when it was temporarily replaced with a non-filter Pall Mall, but it was always within reach. See, my grandpa was a bookie, so he (sometimes literally) lived for the Sports Section. He was always up-to-date on all the scores, tournaments, game upsets, athlete arrests, horse races, etc. and knew the odds of everything. And I mean everything. He was brilliant. At least I thought so. And apparently the Lima News thought so, too, because he worked there for a long time. I doubt, though, that he read the paper to verify his “work” was satisfactory.
I wasn’t at my grandparents all the time. Maybe once or twice a month but it was often enough to notice that my grandpa always used a solid white coffee mug. I thought it was THE mug, and still do today, as it’s found a special place on a shelf in my kitchen. When he poured me my first cup of coffee, the aroma was so satisfying. It smelled better than his homemade vegetable soup or Johnny Marzetti. I brought the hot mug up to my lips, sniffed, looked across the table at my grandpa for approval; he smiled, and I sipped. It was disgusting!!! I thought, “how in the world can anyone drink this nasty stuff!” But I didn’t say a word. I just sat there embracing the moment–a moment with one of the most important men in my life.
After that moment, each time that I visited my grandparents I found myself eager to sit across that kitchen table from my grandpa and drink that nasty stuff. It was our bonding time, and most of the time not a single word was said. Now, nearly 25 years later, I still drink black coffee, although I’ve grown to love its taste. I usually put away three to four cups in the morning, a cup or two in mid-afternoon and always a couple of cups in the evening to unwind. The beautiful thing about drinking that much coffee is that I get to share a piece of it with my grandpa each time, as I think about him when I catch the beans’ satisfying aroma in the air.
So, the next time someone asks what you would take if you were to going to be stranded on an island…think about it for just a minute. Sure, taking all the money in the world would be nice, but even that won’t get you very far and what’s the point if it doesn’t bring you true happiness? It’s those little things that mean the most, and whereas coffee and chapstick seem somewhat insignificant to most, they mean the world (and a world full of memories and happiness) to me.