# # A and D Ointment

Brother, I Can See Your Skull.

Brother, I Can See Your Skull. - The Coreyshead Blog

A and D Ointment

Unguent, I need unguent.

“Unguent, I need unguent.” -Gaear Grimsrud

I’m not sure why but I just flashed on A and D ointment.

A and D (or A+D, as the label reads these days) ointment has been around forever and is a fairly straightforward product. The active ingredients are Lanolin, and Petrolatum with cod liver oil (the source of the A and D: vitamins), fragrance, light mineral oil, microcrystalline wax, and paraffin. Its use? Primarily for soothing diaper rash but it is also very popular for healing tattoos.

I know it from my childhood. My mom used it on I and my brother for our diaper rash when we were babies and then kept that last tube around for burns, rashes, and other minor skin irritations.

Though I’ve not seen any since the mid-70’s, I remember the smell of it, the color of it, its viscosity. The tube was off-white with yellowish-tan highlights, the name printed along its length in black and white: A and D Ointment. The white, plastic, screw-off lid was flat and broad like a wafer with ridged edges for ease of grip. I don’t know why but this ointment left an indelible impression on me, so much so that, here I am, nearly two decades later, suddenly remembering minute details about it out of the blue. Perhaps it is a combination of the smell and the association with my mother’s soothing attention that I remember it so vividly and fondly.

In any case, that last, partially used tube sat in my parent’s wide bathroom drawer for years, a leftover from the time of diapers. It rested over on the right side of the drawer next to mom’s brushes, there with the bobby-pins, and the little glass bottle of orange-flavored, St. Joseph’s chewable aspirin that I and my brother would sneak like secret candies.

I saw the tube quite often during my early grade-school years, because mom would call me in to brush my hair in the mornings and the drawer was almost always left open for easy access. I would monkey with things as I stood there: a deep green, Buddha shaped bottle of Jade East cologne, dad’s safety razor, the A and D Ointment tube.

Over the years, the malleable, thin metal of this half-crimped tube of ointment became more faceted, its painted exterior difficult to read. I remember unscrewing the lid on occasion in order to inhale its rich, soothing odor but otherwise, despite the rough and tumble of our boyful household, it was rarely used.

Too often was it touched only to be shoved aside, too often were other denizens of the drawer tossed upon it for it to retain its shape, its integrity. It began to leak from the tail seam and one or two small breaks in the tube where the crimp had been too often or too severe. The consistency of the contents was such that it didn’t leak much, however, and so it remained.

hairbrushAt some point, my child-brain had a moment of destructive curiosity and, alone in the bathroom, I placed the old, crinkled tube on the counter and whacked it with the the prongy bristles of my mother’s wide-toothed hairbrush. A grid of holes, almost regular enough to indicate foul play, opened up along one side.

Though having engineered the failure, I was aghast at the results and gingerly placed the tube back in the drawer, new-holes down. I cleaned the brush bristles and put it back, too, then closed the drawer and slunk away hoping my crime would remain a secret. I reasoned that, since brush and tube bumped up against each other all of the time, it wasn’t impossible that said damage might have occurred naturally …

The A and D tube stayed in the drawer a couple of months more. I’d sometimes inspect it while my mother was distracted and, sure enough, gravity was inexorably pulling the gloppy ointment out of the new holes, down towards whatever rested beneath them. I’d put it back carefully, trying to place it in such a way as to hide the damage, fight the pull of gravity, and protect the things around it from its tell-tale oozings, as if I could mitigate the negative reality I’d created with tender attentiveness but there was no denying fate.

One day I looked in the drawer and the tube was gone.

I’ve not seen one since.

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