Obsession. Such a strong word with some negative appeal. I don’t think I’m obsessive. Well maybe a little. I prefer to think of it as liking something very much and sticking with it until I die. Is that the definition of obsessive? These are products I’ve become attached to. Once I find something I really like, my mind (and nose) can rarely be changed. I just can’t imagine my life without said product. Although they’re not essential to my life, they are needed to make my life better. Just call it my relentless product loyalty.
First thing I remember becoming (alarmingly) attached to was in Davenport, 35 years ago. I loved to sunbathe (I know, my bad) and my lips were always as dry as a popcorn fart. I stopped at our neighborhood Perry Drug store and bought a small tube of Mentholatum Natural Ice lip balm. A strange feeling accosted my lips when I smeared some on. There was a slight tingling/burning sensation. Oooh-that’s the way-ah-huh, ah-huh-I like it. Since that fateful purchase, I can’t remember a solitary day in my life hence where a tube of Mentholatum has not been in my possession. Choosing my favorite (and only) cologne for the past 25 years would not be my top priority if I were stranded on a desert island but rest assured tubes of Mentholatum, my toothbrush and toothpaste definitely would be.
I panicked a few years ago when all my local haunts stopped carrying Mentholatum in Michigan. Damn Burt’s Bee’s and Chap Stick and their 50 freakin varieties take up half the store shelves. I finally found Mentholatum online and ordered 20 tubes at a time (since I cannot face the possibility of ever running out). A few years ago I discovered several stores in Iowa still carry Mentholatum so we’d stop at every Hy-Vee store from Davenport to Sioux Falls. (Often when we made this trip it was hotter than Hades in the Midwest). There I was traipsing across 4 states lugging little bags of Mentholatum with me to eat or antique because I feared they would melt in the hot car until we finally settled in a cool hotel or back home.
My next loyalty award arrived by accident 15 years ago. A span in my life which consisted of driving from mid-Michigan to northwest Iowa every couple months. Sometimes I flew but usually drove the 750 miles. Mom was slipping and it was harder for Dad to care for her. He was out of his element in the caregiving department. But they both made due for as long as they could, until they couldn’t.
On the way to Iowa I usually made several stops. None were out of my way but an excellent excuse to get out of the car and stretch for a bit. Two stops were Outlet Malls, one in Michigan City, Indiana, the second in Williamsburg, Iowa. The other 2 were huge antique malls, one close to the Michigan City Outlet, the other near Peru, Illinois.
I had been watching (longing/coveting) a Waterford lamp in Michigan City for a couple of years. It was a bit out of my price range and I kept hoping when I stopped that the price had either dropped or someone had finally put me out of my misery and bought the dang thing and it would be gone. No such luck. There it sat, lit like a lifesaving beacon during a storm. Taunting, exquisite and dusty. Shoot, it wouldn’t get dusty at my house. Oh alright, I lie, dusting is right up there with root canals-but still, the lamp would look far better lighting up my cozy little nest. Same stinking price, dealer wouldn’t come down a nickel. Well then rot on the shelf. (I have since snagged 2 Waterford lamps).
Before heading west again on 94 west and weaving my way around Chicago I was ready for some lunch. I’m almost done eating when I picture my makeup bag on top of the dining room table at home. Don’t know why that image popped in my head but it did. Are you kidding? No makeup, shampoo, conditioner, brush, nothing. Did I actually forget to pack it in the car? Trot out to the car, pop the trunk and go through everything. Nada. Well there’s money I don’t want to spend. Shoot.
I’m trying to get by as cheap as I can. Stop at Walgreens, pick up a small deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, and shower gel. Can’t get chintzy with moisturizer for my dry skin but buy the smallest jar, adding the bare essentials for makeup, eyebrow pencil, powder, concealer. Now I just need hair stuff.
I don’t want full size bottles, they take up too much room. On a shelf I spot a package introducing a line of new products. Tiny 2 oz. bottles of hair care products, shampoo, conditioner, gel and hair spray by a company named John Frieda. On sale for $4.99. Enough to get me through a week. Sold.
This particular trip I’m spending one night in my old stomping grounds, Davenport for a rousing night of double deck Euchre with my former bowling buddies. We have a great time catching up, eating, playing cards. I spend the night at Jeanne’s. I still have a good 6-7 hours to drive so no dawdling in the morning. Fine except for one problem. I can’t get out of the shower. Nothing physical, it’s that new shampoo. The smell is incredible. Damn I smell good. Really good. I’m hooked. Where can I buy this stuff by the gallon?
It’s a win-win I stumbled upon these hair products. They’re actually for color treated hair. I’m cruising through year 20, using L’Oréal every freakin month (another loyal awards user, hadn’t received “the sign” to stop yet. That would take this slow poke another 15 years-sigh). This was just the best accidental find in my life. Until it was snatched from me 10 years later. I’ve always been a quantities buyer. A sucker when something I use regularly is on sale. So I always had 3 or 4 bottles of shampoo and conditioner in the linen closet. But it had been a few months since I bought any. I was checking the shelves and prices at Meijer. The usual spot was sporting some other dead bed-head crap. I looked in clearance, zip there too. Drive over to Rite Aid and find one bottle of hairspray. Grab it and have an awful feeling that Neese is not going to smelling nearly as awesome very soon.
I’m (still) not an online shopper. When I need something I go to the most likely stores which should carry what I’m looking for. (I’m hopelessly outdated). But for this delicious, deliriously smelling shampoo and conditioner, I am the ultimate online shopper with a goal. And it wasn’t hard to find. I ordered a dozen bottles of each and guarded my stash in a hermetically sealed safe at an undisclosed location. (Which only accepted my iris to unlock).
That was in 2014. After repeated trips to the underground, 12 inch thick, reinforced concrete facility, my world changing shampoo was disappearing at an alarmingly fast rate. Went back online to all the surplus outlets which carry discontinued (hurts my heart to even write it) products. After an hour long search I found 3 bottles of shampoo. Three bottles for 99 bucks. That’s right folks, 99 dollars. And I gave it careful consideration. Tried to convince myself that 30 bucks for an 8 ounce bottle of shampoo was worth every penny. Who am I trying to kid? Could not do it. The conditioner however was readily available much cheaper as was the hairspray. So I bought a dozen bottles of each (Such a creature of habit-it’s disgusting).
Now I’m down to days using my favorite smelling shampoo. Mere days. I’m adjusting to the change in my life without my signature smell. (Actually with enough conditioner and hairspray that’s gonna last way past my expiration date, I will still probably have the same scent wafting off my countenance). But it’s the shampoo I attribute the smell with. But it’s not all bad news. I woke up one morning a year ago and made the simple decision to stop dyeing my hair. (Only took me 35 years). And my John Frieda ‘root awakening’ shampoo is for color treated hair-which I no longer have! Got off that miserable train wreck. Yay me. Just another sign that this well adjusted grandma (ha-ha no one is ever gonna buy into this old dinosaur is adaptable) can easily change too…