Tag Archives: 90s

Thanks for the memories, Bonne Bell.

1 Feb bonne bell lip smacker strawberry cheesecake

It’s fourth grade and I’m sitting in class at my hellhole of a Catholic elementary school. I open up my pencil case and smile. I have a secret. I am a rebel. I have lip gloss in the form of a Lip Smackers Raspberry Spritz Lip Sparkler in there even though makeup is totally verboten.

The tube itself is a little sad – the poor thing has been through a lot. It leaked a few times, so the outside is sticky and covered in a metallic grey film from rubbing against the broken pieces of graphite rolling around from my automatic pencils. Covertly putting it in my pocket, I head to the bathroom to reapply. Fuck makeup bans… I have like ten more of these at home, anyway, and I dare those nasty teachers to even TRY to stop me.

After hearing the news that Bonne Bell is shutting down all production in the United States yesterday, I felt as if I was losing a close friend. B one of the first to make fun flavored products for young girls and teens. They started a revolution – just look at how many different variations of lip products we have now! It brings back so many memories of just how much these products were a part of my life.

lip smackers, bonne bell

Goodnight, sweet princess.

When I graduated from college, I decided to move to the west side of Cleveland in a wonderful town called Lakewood. As I was driving around one day, I almost got in an accident. I had found the Bonne Bell headquarters. I immediately ran home, pulled open my makeup drawer and grabbed the first Smacker I could find. Sure enough, it said Lakewood, OH right on the label. I think I almost cried when I realized that my twelve year-old self would have NEVER in a million years guessed that she would one day live so close to where her favorite product had originated.

Do you remember all the seasonal tins they would come out with? How about Lip Lix, the more ‘grown up’ balms that were tinted and just as delicious as their more adolescent Lip Smackers counterparts? And does anyone remember what they were like BEFORE they started putting colorful labels on them? I sure do. How about the necklaces they used to make where you could switch your favorite glosses in and out? What about Sun Smackers, the sporty SPF versions that almost every lifeguard in the 90s had dangling around their necks at the local pools?

sun smackers lip smackers

I wish I could say I did research before writing this article, but I didn’t… I have so much love for these products, so many memories, so many damn tubes of them that I just can’t find it in my heart to say goodbye. Even though I’ve ventured on to better balms – ones without the cloying fake scents and excessive glossiness – hearing this news gave me the opportunity to do something that I think I would have felt guilty doing before if circumstances weren’t so dire: I bought every Smacker I could find on the Target shelves today and I didn’t regret it one bit. For now, they will stay in my makeup drawer with their packaging intact and their bright colors and fun scents untouched by my hands… hands that are much older, perhaps a little more wiser, but nonetheless the same hands that held so many of these in my tiny palms throughout the 90s and my Dr. Pepper and bubblegum-scented childhood.

Dirty Dancing in Depends

14 Aug

old people dancing

From the outside, it looked like any normal hotel chain. It was a Friday night and, judging by the sparse amount of illuminated hotel room windows, guests were out for the night and exploring the various bars and upscale restaurants within proximity. At nine o’clock, we pulled into the hotel parking lot for what I was told would be one of the most depressingly entertaining nights of my life.

My initial suspicions and doubts were immediately erased by the very first glimpses of life that I saw emerging. From every corner of the parking lot, Buicks, Lincolns and Mercurys piled in, their shiny exteriors slowly spitting out men and women the ages of sixty and up with crisp suites, colorful ties and sparkling bodysuits that left in their wakes an intoxicating aroma of expensive aftershaves and perfumes that had been sprayed one pump too many. Like us, they were headed to the lounge located in the heart of the hotel – a place famously known for aging swingers and singles in the area to go when they were seeking to dance to rhythms set ten paces faster than their slowing pulses.

The most laughable part of entering the lounge was the fact we were all carded five feet before we even had a chance to look through the door. The bouncers, which were comprised of two men in their late sixties, seemed excited to actually have a chance to perform their jobs. The lounge was quite large – at least three rooms (plus a separate room where a wedding party was being held) with two levels plus a generously-sized dance floor equipped with strobe lights of various sizes and colors. Beneath these vibrant lights, dancing in outfits whose colors somewhat offset the pallor of their skin, were couples that I’d like to believe were never divorced and still much in love.

grandma DJ

Work it, Grandma!

I would be doing myself and the lounge a disservice if I was to even attempt to accurately describe what I saw for the next four hours. It involved a live band which, to my amazement, was extremely good. As the night went on, the dance floor became so crowded that it was hard for us to even pick out our favorites, which included an Amish man (we are assuming he just never went back after his Rumspringa), a seventy-something old lady who could bend down lower and perform more sensual dance moves than I ever could and two female wallflowers who looked like they had traveled forward in time from their high school prom, their now-wrinkled hands desperately clutching the vodka tonics that they shyly sipped. For me, the night hit its peak when the band performed a rap version of “Sexual Healing” by Marvine Gaye. Based on how everyone was dancing and moving so close, I had to wonder how many bottles of Viagra had been passed around the place that night.

Watching the individuals sitting near our table, on the dance floor and gossiping and acting giddy in the women’s restroom was a pure treat for a people watcher such as myself. Despite sitting there and laughing at the expense of senior citizens simply out to have a good time, it was almost like peering into a mirror that, although foggy and cracked, reflected the traits and trials that all human beings must go through regardless of what age they are at: I could see couples who were still in love, women who were still insecure about themselves, men who still felt like they had the world at their feet and a universal eagerness, almost desperation, to be accepted and loved. Looking out into that dance floor, I gained a newfound clarity on the fragility of life and how loving and accepting yourself is so important to learn while you are young.

During the last half hour at the lounge, the band started singing some of our favorite hits from the 90s. I found myself singing along to “It Wasn’t Me” by Shaggy and dancing in my seat. Smiling, laughing and enjoying music from the past, I realized that I really wasn’t that different from anyone else there that night.

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