The Story of Chappy Chaperello

Tonight’s free song from the Colors Made of Tears soundtrack is “Chappy Chaperello,” but there is a story behind this song…

Legend has it that in the late 1880s a former slave by the name of Chaperello, or Chappy to those who knew him, developed a new form of lip balm dispensed by means of an applicator called a “stick.” Folks embraced it as “Chappystick” and it enjoyed a quickly-won yet loyal following. The problem came when investors sought to make this new product a national phenomenon; in short order Chaperello was swindled by the wealthy paleskins. The repackaged “Chapstick” made a mint, and when Chaperello tried to expose this crime he was thrown in prison for the rest of his natural life. To this day many of us with rich pigmentation abstain from using Chapstick, preferring Vaseline or some other product over “the white man’s venom” as Chaperello referred to it behind bars.

You see, back in 2001 my friends and I spent too much time hanging out and got to flapping our gums about nonsense–as is so often the case with friends, yes?–and from these discussions while driving around in my old car came Chappy. I remember Chappy rather fondly, especially referring to Chapstick as “the white man’s venom” (which can also be used to refer to paper money).

In fact, I was so fond of Chappy Chaperello I included him in one of my first short stories back in 2001. The title was “Maori Medium” and it was about a fellow who finds himself in prison because Michael Jordan wants his knees so he can make a comeback; he could get another 15 years out of his career that way. Naturally the fellow resists, and authorities throw him in the slammer at the behest of those with money who pull the strings behind the scenes. While in prison the protagonist makes the mistake of saying he needs a medium when being given his prison clothes. Nobody has a medium in there, and for good reason: the guy in charge of dispensing clothes violently and pathologically associates the word “medium” with the Maori practice of headhunting. Thus our protagonist finds himself desperately evading a headhunter while also staving off the criminal agents of Jordan. During this process he befriends the last living heir of Chappy Chaperello, after which he learns the whole sordid tale. Chaperello’s descendent committed crimes explicitly for the purpose of being sent to this particular prison because it houses the swindler’s descendent. More plot ensues, and some action, blah blah et cetera it turns out Michael Jordan actually just wanted to marry the protagonist’s niece, and has no interest in taking the man’s knees. The man acquiesces and approves the marriage, despite the fact his niece is only 15. The protagonist is released from prison, and as he steps out of the gates to his awaiting ride he is killed by an out of control segue–the prison was at the bottom of a very steep hill. The end.

The beauty part here is that you did not need to know ANY of that in order to listen to “Chappy Chaperello” at!