Ben-Gay and Hot Toddies

This winter has been brutal as far as this flu/cold thing.  I’ve been flirting with having it several times, sick a little bit for a few days, but not in the same over the top, horrible way everyone else in my family has wound up with it.

The damn thing finally ran me to the ground this week, wrapping me in that thermal dance that seems to be impossible – shivering everywhwere, but your head is burning up.  Little rumbling hacking, tight cough starts somewhere in the bottom of your lungs and it’s…. oh, no!  This is really gonna suck.  You have that moment of surrender when you know there’s just no avoiding this germy bullet, time to pull out all the Jane Austen and Lord of the Rings DVDs.

Much as I’d like to be sniffing some perfumes and writing about them, instead I’m only fit to describe the homey comfort of the smell of Ben-Gay.    When we were sick as kids – and I was sick all the time – my mom would smear Ben-Gay on our chests, give us a hot toddy (little whiskey, honey and hot water), put cloths on top of the stove, heat them up, pack them on our chests, get another ocloth heated up, change it out for the first one, and keep doing that until the skin of your chest was approximately the temperature of the sun,  Then we’d be packed off to bed.  Sometime during the night, we would sweat and cough and hack and the fever would break, we were cool once again and on the mend.

I don’t do the hot towels on my chest anymore because I don’t have one of those old farm stoves to heat it up on, but the Ben-Gay is a staple.  One whiff of that pungent nasal-clearing concoction feels like home and mom and love – the one person in the world who loves you in a way no one else ever will.

As for that hot toddy, I think I’m going to just go for a Tuaca and Coke instead.  Drink a cold, starve a fever? 

Something to look forward to this week or next — my vanity tour continues.  Next up is eyelash extensions.  Being blond  has some good things about it, but it also means my lashes have always been light and almost impossible to see.  Add on to that using mascara for 40 years, and they are thin as lady bug wings right now.  So I’m heading to the eyelash store to get a nice, full set of lashes.  Anyone else done that? Then the next thing I’m toying with is the eyeliner tattoo. A friend of mine did that, and they look great, but she said it took a lot of tequila before she had it done, and even then, it hurt like heck.  Advice? 

  • loreal says:

    can the smell of bengay kill you?
    if its really strong and your trying to go to sleep? haha.

  • eyeliner tattoo !!
    I can feel the pain already, I got a tattoo on my arm and it hurt. Having the tattoo gun that close to my eye would have me running. Good Luck with that, let us know how that goes.

  • Flor says:

    Eyelash extensions are a great idea. For blonds, I would also recommend dying the lashes. Permanent tatoo makeup? no. Would hurt way too much to be worth it, and if there’s a mistake made, or if you regret it later, there’s no going back.

  • Dain says:

    Hi Patty! I have found the best way to accentuate the lashline with the least bit of hassle is to take a really creamy smooth pencil and smoosh it along the inner rim right between the lashes. This gives the illusion of thickness no mascara can mimic, and once you get used to applying eyeliner there, it’s pretty easy to do, and tattooing usually looks real false to me. Then, mascara. The overall effect is just a notch short of false lashes, and I try to use the inkiest black possible, because the effect is most pronounced that way (I like Too Faced Liquid Lava Extreme Black Gloss and L’Oreal Carbon Black Voluminous).

  • kathleen says:

    Tatooing, bad. Colin Firth, good.
    Feel better.

  • tmp00 says:

    I say no to the tatooing as well. Extensions, yes. Lash tinting, sure.

    Feel better!

  • rosarita says:

    So sorry that you finally got the crud that has been ubiquitous in this country over the winter. Jane Austen sounds like a great plan. As to moms and hot chest cloths and toddies, well, I’ve been a bit of that mom myself. We lived in an extremely old and drafty farm house for a few years when my daughter was little (seriously, your hair would blow in the breeze of the ill fitting living room windows) and we stayed warm one winter drinking hot chocolate w/ peppermint schnapps. DD still gets nostalgic from all things peppermint.:)
    As to the eye stuff, just do your research. I have a good friend who did the liner tatoo and has had nothing but trouble (not trying to be Debbie Downer, but it’s the only real life experience I know first hand.) I think we’re about the same age; I personally wouldn’t do it just because the crepey eye thing is genetic and I don’t see that being a good look w/ permanent liner. OTOH, an eyelift would probably fix that……hope you feel better soon.

  • Musette says:


    You sound sick as a horse! So sorry to hear it. One thing that really works in our house is a saline inhalation – cuts down the sickie time by about 40% – some folks use a neti pot, I just mix some saline (about tear-strength) and snort it like…well…

    …anyway, it really clears a LOT of the congestion and lubes the nose. But be careful, if you do try it- Not too much salt or it will burn (it won’t kill you but it’s like getting a snootful of ocean water!)

    I am in agreement with other posters who urged caution and restraint on the eyeliner tattoo. I’ve seen that on older women and it’s not a pretty thing – but perhaps today’s procedures are less obvious and more likely to look ‘natural’ we we age.

    Alas, my only vanity today will be to take off this tacky, chipped nail polish before I go out….and put on some perfume. Somthing that can hold its own against the foundry and the tang of machine oil and metal. I’m thinking Horris ‘Oriental’..

    Here’s some more ~:> and some ~o) and a :-ss (he’s got one of those non-irritating tissues for you! (I wish I knew what he is supposed to be doing)

  • donanicola says:

    You have my sympathies, Patty! Apart from a few down days associated with dank miserable weather and an out of balance work load I’d been free of colds/flu until I was felled last week. I’m back at work though a long way from fully recovered and my sense of taste and smell is oddly one dimensional and so not the source of comfort it usually is:(( I can understand the lure of the eyeliner tattoo only because I recently read an article by Daniel Sandler, a makeup artist who hangs out in the Urban Retreat spot in Harrods. He talked about a semi permanent eyeliner in the style of Honor Blackman and I must say, I was sold on that idea. I’m sure however that you will do the necessary research to ensure your eye’s safety etc but if it’s subtle, hell, why not?

  • March says:

    Bless your heart. Here, let me make you a cup of tea. ~o) With a shot in it. 🙂

    Can’t wait to hear about the new eyelashes. The permanent liner … I know a couple people who’ve had it done, and they are thrilled, and it looks good. OTOH I know I’ve read stories about folks who’ve had allergic reactions to the dye and the problems last as long as the tattoos — years.

    Maybe you should get a bottle of Caron tattooed on your heinie first to make sure you’re not sensitive to the dye components? Just a thought.

  • Debbie says:

    I am so sorry to hear that you’re so ill. Poor thing.

    Please don’t do the eyeliner thing. I agree with the poster above about how it might look as you get older. They are making eyeliners now that are just so easy….pencils that don’t tug and gel eyeliners. You have such a warm, charismatic personality that I don’t think all this beautification stuff is necessary. I think you would attract people even if you had nothing on your face at all. Okay, maybe not when you’re deathly ill, but nothing helps in that circumstance. Trust me; I know. 🙁

    Get well soon!

  • Suzanne says:


    Here’s hoping that you get well soon. And I’m joining the chorus that says yes to the eyelashes, but “no!” to the eyeliner tattoo. For some reason, the other procedures you’ve described sound wonderful and restorative (and if I could convince my husband, I’d have some of them done too). But the eyeliner tattoo sounds kind of scary — and having seen your photos, I think you are such a pretty woman (the yowwww, mercy! Roy Orbison kinda pretty woman) that I would suggest you keep doing what you’re already doing, but don’t take any risks with your already beautiful eyes!

  • perfumequeen says:

    Isn’t it funny how many moms and dads gaveus the whiskey/honey/hot tea combo when we were kids? And now that is highly frowned upon though it is probably less damaging than nyquil or the heavier stuff. I hope you feel better soon. may I reccommend anything with Colin Firth?

    As for the eyelashes, definately test for allergies. I got regular hair extension once, the salon didn’t even suggest checking for glue allergies. Many of them fell out and gave me a rash. I still have a few bald spots today. ugh. Let us know how it goes

    ANd nay on the tatoo liner. that could be dangerous. and, if you get some aging on the eyes it could look freakish. Not that you would get eye aging, but just for argument purposes…

    Get better soon!

  • Wendy says:

    There is something oddly comforting about Vicks and Ben Gay. Scents that you know will help numb pain.

    Also find that drinking away a cold/flu helps enormously. My dad used to make Falernum – essentially rum (he liked Mount Gay Golden rum) with enough brown sugar to make it syrupy. “drink it slow.” =))

    Enough Falernum and you don’t even notice the flu. >:)

    Get well soon Patty.

  • Judith says:

    Feel better! Personally, I would be hesitant about anything as permanent (or maybe just long-lasting) as the eyeliner; I love make-up, but styles change. Lashes, on the other hand–big yes!!

    You are my inspiraton as far as procedures go, though. I know I am older than you and undoubtedly need them more, but I’ve been strangely chicken. Now, when I feel ready, I am unfortunately also broke and pressed for time And it doesn’t help that DH is dead set against anything (men!). But I recently got a broken blood vessel that MUST go soon; and while I’m there, I intend to ask about other things (I’m sure the derm will roll eyes wondering what took me so long!):)

  • Elle says:

    Hope you feel better soon! Enjoy those DVDs in the meantime. I think Jane A. is as good for the body and soul as chicken soup.
    Definitely go for the lashes! From Louise’s comment, it sounds like the tattoo color doesn’t last forever, so that makes it sound much more potentially positive to me…of course, this is from someone who has never even used eyeliner period. I’m afraid I’m a make-up extreme minimalist – lipstick and mascara and that’s it. But I am *definitely* pro cosmetic procedures for myself and have money set aside for them (pulling from perfume budget).

  • Louise says:

    So sorry that crap finally caught you- I have a theory that moms stay well until the end of the season because they’re so needed before.

    Go for the extensions (but have them allergy-test the glue first). The eyeliner can look really well done-but I’m with the crew on caution re who does it, sterile conditions, etc. Also-be very careful in selecting the color-the ink lasts several years or more, and if the color is off-well that’s what you got.

    • Louise says:

      Ah-and on eyelash dying…it did not go well for me, stung like…a bee, washed out very fast. Mascara is such a good friend, despite it’s need for frequent stroking 🙂

  • MattS says:

    Poor sweet Patty…drink a cold, drink a fever always helps as well.8-}
    I’m with Maria on the Vick’s Vapo-Rub; I assume it’s basically the same smell as Ben-Gay. Even now, when I travel, I take a bottle of Vick’s with me, as it seems hotel rooms often have a stuffiness that makes it hard for me to breathe. Vick’s is the perfect comfort scent when sleeping away from home. I’ve also heard of people using it before they go running; I may try that today.
    I’m with everyone else; be wary of the tattooed eyeliner. There may be a day when you decide you don’t want any on.
    Feel better soon, dear one.
    Drink ~:> soup and hot ~o)

    • Vasily says:

      Ben Gay is made with methyl salicylate, so it smells strongly of wintergreen. Vicks Vaporub, on the other hand, smells of eucalyptus and menthol. Ben Gay has a “sore muscle” association for me, whereas Vaporub has a “miserable head cold” association.

  • Lee says:

    Careful with those bee-yoo-tiful eyes, lovely one. Don’t let one too many T&Cs help you decide on the tattoo front!

    And I hope you wake up feeling a little bit clearer this morning!:x

  • Feel better soon!!
    On another note: yes to lash extensions, no to eyeliner tatoo (ouch! and maybe a bit risky?).But whatever you decide it will be interesting to read your experience.

  • Gail S says:

    Oh, I’m so sorry it finally got you! It seems to be finally tapering off in my community, thank goodness. I’m kinda tired of the E.R. being packed 24hrs a day with its’ victims.

    As for the tatoo eyeliner, all I know is that Carmindy on What Not to Wear was horrified when one of their makeover ladies showed up with this :d

  • Maria says:

    It’s interesting how fond we can be of those little things that gave us comfort when we were children. Mine was Vick’s VapoRub, but it’s the same idea. Now I prefer Tiger Balm.

    Getting permanent eyeliner sounds dangerous. Don’t do it! In the meantime, I hope you feel better soon.

    • Patty says:

      I never thought about the permanent eyeliner being dangerous. I think they’re pretty careful, I just think it will be super-annoying to have it done.

  • Jennifer says:

    Feel better soon. Thing going around is nasty; I got it last month and it knocked me out for two days.

  • violetnoir says:

    “Drink a cold, starve a fever!” Hey, sounds good to me, babe! Bottoms up!

    Seriously, I hope you feel better soon. I look forward to hearing about your foray into eyelash extensions. It’s all good!

    Hugs and love!