This past week as I’ve prepared for my eldest daughter’s birthday, my senses at all shopping facilities were heightened in search of anything girlish, sparkly or pink. Preferably all of the above.
Normally, I am not the type of woman who dives into shopping sprees. I am the make-list-shop-and-scram kind of gal. So when I noticed every checkout stand filled with a blast from my past, I took it as a sign these joyous novelty items were to resurge at her upcoming party.
It was 1976: a presidential election year and the 200th anniversary of our country’s independence from Great Britain. Every local newspaper, politician and teacher was discussing the bicentennial, the Carter/Ford election and Judy Garland’s dress from “The Wizard of Oz,” which was touring on the American Freedom Train.
However, as a third grader from Kansas, I had more important issues to tackle:
What flavor of Bonne Bell Lip Smacker would I be for the talent show, and could I talk my flavorful friends into singing with me?
Did I lose you on that last one?
Back in Mrs. Abrahamson’s home room, my close group of 15 girlfriends and I collected lip balms called Lip Smackers. They came in a myriad of scents and flavors — mostly fruity and candy types — but some with tantalizing soft drink flavors. Each of us had claimed our favorite, so we decided it would be clever to call each other by the name of our lip gloss.
“How’s it going, Bubblegum Bonne Bell Lip Smacker?”
“Great, Root Beer Bonne Bell Lip Smacker.” Yes, we would say the entire phrase each time. No need to shorten a good thing!
I’m sure this wasn’t annoying for any of our teachers, Girl Scout leaders or parents. And as most irritating school-aged phases go, this game lasted most of the school year. Bless you, Mrs. A.
The Lip Smackers back then came in a plastic tube that was 4 inches long and the diameter of a roll of film. Attached to the cap was a rope you placed around your neck like a bolo tie for easy and quick application.
For weeks on the playground, my friends and I would rehearse singing and dancing to Olivia Newton-John’s, “Have You Never Been Mellow?” We knew we were beyond talented. The only thing we were missing was an interested audience.
I clearly remember the feeling when Mrs. Abrahamson asked if we would like to perform our number in front of the class. This song and dance production was something I had vividly envisioned and I already knew we were ready for a national tour.
I suppose one performance for our classmates before we hit the road would be acceptable.
Making sure the back row of desks could see our every move and every flavor girl, I directed my friends to stand on their chairs, which I lined up in a single row. I had great artistic vision for my age.
Then we grasped our Lip Smackers fervently and sang acappella, determined to have a hit record by the time the school bell rang. It was the brightest moment of my third grade career. Needless to say, the tour didn’t pan out for us.
Last week my eldest daughter informed me that she and her friends had started a rock band. They had written one song and already their teacher was praising them.
It’s a pity though. The Bonne Bell Lip Smackers of today are tiny and incapable of becoming a lifelike microphone. Perhaps I’ll have to swap them for multi-colored hairbrushes in the birthday party goody bags.
You can’t go wrong with a pink hairbrush microphone.