"When did you discover that you loved chocolate?"
It was a simple enough question, but the question came out of the mouth of my best friend, Charlene, so it was a dicey situation. She is a slick one.
"Oh, I don't know. I can remember that we had a sweet little outside brick fireplace with a grill built right in to it, whenever we were growing up," I told Charlene while we were lying on the benches on each side of the picnic table in her backyard talking about chocolate and staring in to the sky, looking for the Milky Way.
"We used to make some-mores out there at that fireplace every Sunday night. All of the neighborhood would show up at one time or another with a box of graham crackers or a bag of marshmallows. Everyone knew we would have the main ingredient – chocolate." We both laughed. So far, so good.
"I remember my Uncle Melvin stopping past to visit one night during the some-more making. "My mom asked him if he wanted a some-more, and he said, "Nah, I think I've had a-enough." We laughed at his joke for years." Ahh, good times, and they all seem tied in to chocolate.
She jolted me out of my memory by saying, "So, you were what? Nine or 10?" Huh? Charlene was doing math. This didn't bode well.
Plus, she was trying to pin me down to a time in one of my stories. That never happened. Usually she took what I said at face value and never thought if the story was even true. She was up to something.
"What's your earliest chocolate memory?" I figured I would throw the question back at her and see what she was up to.
"I ate every piece of candy in my Easter basket when I was 9 years old in 12 minutes." It didn't take long until it became clear that she was going to claim that she had loved chocolate longer than me. Some friend.
I told her, "I ate Halloween candy until I got sick when I was in first grade."
She countered with, "I took chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing to give to my kindergarten class on my birthday."
"I gave my brother a black eye when I was 2 and a half because he stole my m&m's and wouldn't give them back."
I suddenly remembered the picture that hung in my mom's dining room forever. "I have pictures of me with my first birthday cake. Mom said they bought me a white cake with white icing and I cried my head off, refusing to try it until they went back to the bakery and got a chocolate one with fudge icing."
"I guess I was a chocolate lover back when I was in the womb. My mom said she craved chocolate for the entire nine months that she carried me."
"Same here," Charlene said. "My mom said she ate chocolate with every meal."
I couldn't stand to be outdone so I said that my mom told me her craving was so intense she ate mashed potatoes with Hershey's syrup drizzled over the top of them.
"Hah. Then the chocolate craving wasn't connected to you because she still eats her mashed potatoes that way." This seemed to please Charlene. She acted like she had won some big Olympic medal.
I had been bested. I couldn't do better than pre-womb. She won. It was a stupid contest anyhow. I cannot stand her when she gets so competitive over something as silly as who loved chocolate the longest. It didn't matter. We both love chocolate now and …
Hah. It came to me in a rush. "My mother was a world-renowned chocoholic, back before it was acceptable for a woman to acknowledge such a thing…"
Her shoulders slumped. We both knew Charlene's mom's soft spot was filled with cheesecake.
Game on, little gal.
(You may reach Janet Good, Somerset, at any time of the day or night simply by emailing her at email@example.com.)