LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Anyway, when I asked her about the Sea Breeze, Lisa plucked it off the shelf, dabbed some on one of the cotton balls she kept in a glass jar (so fancy!), and playfully wiped some on my face. I felt the cool tingle as it dried and smelled its invigorating scent, one I imagined lived regularly on tropical islands where breezes come from.
“You put it on your T-zone,” she said, and I pretended I knew what a T-zone was.
By age 13, my face had sprouted an ugly garden of zits that spread hungrily, even laughingly outside of my T-zone and all over my face. In despair, I begged my mom to buy me some Sea Breeze, which she reluctantly did though she believed all I needed was Zest soap and water.
Each morning and night, I would rub that Breeze on my face, no longer enchanted by the scent though still a little in love with the boat. By 15, even the boat had lost its charm and I’d moved on to Noxzema, which seemed like it should be effective for the amount of work it took to wash off, but really wasn’t. Finally, by age 18, I was ready to concede my mom was right: soap and water really did work best. Oh, and being released from puberty, that helped too.
Anyway, as Gabrielle and I sat, I pointed out the Sea Breeze and noticed how antiquated it looked beside the peppy Clearasils and high-end Neutrogenas. It’s funny how a little bottle can encapsulate such a rush of memories, painful and cherished alike, and I tried to convey them to Gabrielle, who has started dealing with a few pimples of her own. But then it was time for our flu shot and we stood, leaving the little bottle standing on the very bottom shelf where probably no one buys it. So I went back and picked it up and happily paid for it.
And in a few days, my cousin Lisa, whose beauty still glowingly persists, is going to get a surprise in the mail.