Yes, that pink, icky stuff that you dab on your skin with cotton wool to stop the needless itching/scratching from a myriad of mosquito bites or other bugs. Of course, if you grew up in my house you weren’t allowed to say something “itched.” ‘It doesn’t itch, it irritates,’ my mother would say. And people wonder why I grew up to be a wordsmith!
Itch, irritate, whatever. What I can say is that even when I see calamine lotion to this day (I have some in my bathroom cabinet), it takes me immediately back to my childhood. There is something inherently soothing – not just for the bites – about that brown bottle and its pale, rose-coloured contents. The sticky cotton wool tendrils that would stick to your arms and legs but take away the hurt at the same time. It was the instant equivalent of a warm, fluffy, pink, cloud-like embrace.
I still associate calamine lotion with warm, fuzzy feelings, tender, cotton-wool embraces and an unwritten promise that the itching/irritation/pain/hurt/anxiety – real and/or imagined – will eventually fade away and leave just the faintest of scars to remind you that the bad things won’t last forever.
I still love calamine lotion today. Of course it’s not the same as a human embrace but it’s good to know that when things start to itch (or irritate – sorry Mum), and a human hug isn’t readily available, I can always open my bathroom cabinet and be calmed by the Calamine.