Chapped

Chapped: (adj) when lips become cracked, rough, or sore

There was a seventeen-day period back when I was a sophomore in high school, totally possessed by the demon of obsession, when I was
completely insane about my lips.

I don’t know what caused it.

Early in the year, I had nearly driven myself crazy, fearing that while I was sleeping I would swallow my tongue because I overheard a conversation on the subject. But I was finally convinced that my tongue was attached, and would be unwilling to slither down my throat.

During this seventeen day period, I caught a glimpse of my lips in the mirror–and they seemed huge. They weren’t. But my perception had temporarily taken a vacation and left behind a neurosis to care for my brain.

I was convinced that my lips were too large–and since I was raised in a prejudiced Midwest community, I asked my mother if we “had any Negro in our family.” (That’s what we called people of color at the time–Negroes.)

My mother was not only shocked at the question, but sent me to my room until I could come out and “be a decent fellow.”

While I was in my room, I decided to stare at my lips some more. This second viewing caused me to realize that they were not only huge, but they were chapped. I was positive I saw little white flakes trying to surface and take over my mouth.

What was I going to do?

Now please understand–it’s not like I was in some relationship with a girl and my lips were in constant demand. But optimist that I was, I thought it could happen soon, or that some young lady might just take a dare and kiss me. In doing so, would she comment on the acreage of my pucker–how dry and cracked it was?

It was the only thing I thought about. I flunked a pop quiz in chemistry class because I sat there the whole time looking at the beakers of fluid displayed against the wall, wondering if there was something in there that would shrink and smooth out my smooch.

As I don’t know how it began, I also do not know what ceased this madness.

But after seventeen days, I transferred my strange pursuit of lip shrinkage and mouth softening over to a stretch mark. You see, I found one right underneath my left armpit, barely able to be covered by me squeezing my shoulder tightly against my body.

 

 

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