There was, and is, one panacea for all wrongs.
Back in the day, when one was crying, her friends were in charge of getting her to the Super Wal-mart. One would buy lip gloss–preferably Bonne Bell Lipsmackers. Sometimes the three-pack, if whatever it was, was really bad; but every breakup, every betrayal, any hurt whatsoever, however minor, however lame or pathetic, counted.
The rule was enacted when C. began crying in front of the lip gloss section at the Super Wal-Mart one day. Why doesn’t matter. A tradition was born.
Call us shallow, but a little lip gloss goes a long way. A little lip gloss is enough, at times, to remind you to keep going, that there are other people around you, that you’re worth at least a little polishing, than whatever hurts won’t hurt forever because you are at least worth $2.57, and that maybe you have a little sense of humor left because for Pete’s sake you’re wearing sparkly, Dr. Pepper-flavored lip gloss that you last wore when you were ten. (I mean, really.)
I had forgotten the rules until a year or so ago. I was at a cousin’s wedding shower. Now our relatives are cray-cray. Always have been, always will, and I keep hoping it will change but I doubt it ever will. But there was no–at least public–drama. I even had fun. I saw sides of my relatives that I don’t always get to see. I left the shower, overwhelmed with love for the women that were there, almost incredulous that even they could put aside a complicated and painful history for just a little while to celebrate something happy.
But on the highway, I realized I was doing 85 MPH in a rental car, and choking. Everything turned to fuzz. I cried out a contact. Everyone else’s family, even some of my relatives, could unite for a celebration, this celebration. But they didn’t for me. All I could hear was spinning white noise.
Why wouldn’t they do that for me?
Why hadn’t they?
I searched, with my one good eye, for a place to pull over and throw up.
Then I saw the big blue-and-yellow monolith, looming over the town with its capitalist smiley-face and promise of salvation via deals and value-packs. I took the next exit and parked in the lot. I called C. I doubt she could decipher most of what I said. But whatever she may have heard, she told me what I needed to hear.
“Remember the rules. You will wipe away those tears, you will get out of the car, you’re going to march into the Wal-mart, and buy some sparkly cream-soda flavored lip gloss, and you will stand up straight and hold your head high because you are strong and they suck, and dammit, if nothing else, at least you’re wearing lip gloss.”