The Quest

They look a little like this.
They look a little like this.

Today, in kettlebells class, we did 200 swings.

For those of you not in the know, that’s 100 more than we do in the Challenge, a monthly exercise in self-abuse.  Sure, we did ladders – 30, then 25, then 20 and so on, but it still adds up.

My callouses, formerly mute on the subject of swings and apt to grow and peel at will, were not happy.  In fact, they got really angry and red and threatened to bleed.  Not cool.  Strangely, it was my left hand that protested the most.

A friend had recommended Bag Balm.  I have looked for the wintergreen medium-sized green tin several times – in the First Aid aisle, in the lotion aisle – during other routine trips to the store.  I never did find it.  It was like the Loch Ness Monster of ointments.  Some had seen it; some had even used it. I wondered at its mystical healing properties.  Could it help my palm, now greatly resembling a hand full of eyes in a Stephen King short story I foolishly read as a teenager (Nightshift)? He’s a good writer even if he did give me nightmares. It certainly *felt* like eyes were popping out of it.

I hit up my friend again for where, exactly, in tarnation, it could be.  This time, I was going only for this item. The friend gave me a list of where to look.

I picked up Ruby, we got her a hot chocolate for the road, and started our quest.  We did not pack for the journey, for lo, we expected to return quickly.


The store where I do the majority of my shopping is rather all-inclusive.  I started out in teh Pharmacy section.  I looked at the First Aid aisle but only saw many varieties of Neosporin and witch hazel.  Nothing.

Then, the infant aisle, replete with Q-tips, baby wipes and diaper creme.  I haven’t been in this aisle for years. For a moment, I toyed with picking up some Butt Paste but couldn’t quite stomach the thought of deliberately covering my palms with it.

Lastly, I headed to lotions.  All kinds of lotions were housed there – organic, plastic, animal.  No Bag Balm.

Finally, I asked a salesclerk busily ignoring all the people around her.

“Well, “she stated in no-nonsense German-accented tones, “we keep something like it in the pet aisle.”


I admit I was skeptical.  Well, it was originally developed for cow udders.  Do we have a secret clutch of farmers out here, needing bovine care products? Before I crazily took that suggestion, I wandered back through already explored aisles, Ruby clutching her little-big girl makeup treasures.

“Mom”, she said, “we already looked at these aisles.”  Yes.  But sometimes Mommy needs a second look…

Mommy wandered the entire width of the store to reach the pet section. We moseyed up and down four aisles of pet beds, pet food – dogs and cats separated, of course – live fish and their toys, pet clothes and anti-itch remedies.  I saw nothing even remotely resembling balm.

At this point, I couldn’t help but feel punked.

As a last ditch effort, I asked a helpful jewelry section employee.  She called someone on her Batphone.  She said Pharmacy or Infant.  I looked a third time.  Still the same old stuff.

Ruby and I checked out.  Using her allowance, she bought her first real lipstick – red. She has been expressly told the lipstick is for In The House Only.  Seven-year-olds do not wear lipstick.  She also got press-on fingernails in a bejeweled black and white and some stick-on, multicolored rhinestone tattoos in teh shape of dragonflies.  At least one of us scored.  A Glamour Girl is born!

As we were driving out of the parking lot, I asked Ruby if she would mind if we went one more place.  She was game.  But she wanted to stay in the car to apply lipstick and all her other bling.  Okay.

I rushed into the next store and checked out the infant aisle.  Nada.  The next was First Aid.  Uh-uh.  Then…my mind went blank.

Finally, I was directed to lotions.  Right!  And there it was!  In an enormous tin that will probably last me the rest of my life.  I can pass it down to my next of kin.  I know it will be highly valued.

But it does work.  My hands feel better already.  Hopefully, the eyes will go into remission.


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