Beef Fat for Beauty
Two poems about fat and some thoughts about my face
For years, our family has passed around this little green tube of creamy yellow paste in the wintertime.
It’s bigger than a chapstick, but still small enough to fit in a pocket. It has a mild vanilla smell and it starts out hard, but it softens and spreads the second it hits your skin. There’s a label on the side, but because the letters faded away long ago, we’ve never known what it’s called.
So we all just call it ‘face schmoo’.
Face schmoo is used on real winter days when the whipping wind is cold enough to make your eyes tear up like you’re reading the end of a Jodi Picoult novel. You can rub it on the tip of your nose, on your cheeks, or your forehead. It’s a little bit greasy, but it traps the heat and leaves your skin feeling gloriously supple.
The schmoo tube is of unknown origins. It might have been a Christmas gift or a leftover item from a long-ago roommate. Maybe it was left in a jacket pocket by an old girlfriend or maybe it came free with an expensive purchase from an outing goods store.
We don’t know and we never cared. We just used it, year after year, on the coldest of cold days. When my kids were babies, we rubbed it all over their faces before pulling them across our lake in a sled. When they got older, we’d pull it out and reapply it to their cheeks out on the chair lift in between ski runs, hanging on tightly so as not to drop it and lose it forever.
Until this year. This year, we reached the end of the tube. The schmoo that has sustained us through a decade of snowshoeing, skating, and skiing is gone.
Of course, there are many substitute-schmoo-type products I could order, but even choosing one felt like too much of a task, so I didn’t even try.
Last weekend, when we headed out for our day of skiing, it was negative three degrees with a twenty mile an hour wind. I put on lots of layers and dragged a Blistex across my cheeks, but it wasn’t the same. My skin crackled and tightened in the wind.
That night, my husband sat down to do some deep-googling on our green tube. He could make out enough letters to get started…