One of my best friends has a sweatshirt that says, “Hand over the chocolate and no one gets hurt,” which is a reminder that some things never change. This is the same friend who, back in our junior high days, used to sneak out of school with me at lunch time. Cheryl and I would hit up the mom-and-pop store down the street to buy a certain candy bar we were infatuated with. We’d eat them in the park behind our school, risking detention or worse to get our fix. The Choco-Lite bar has long since disappeared from the confectionery landscape, but I remember it like a first love.
Truthfully, my chocolate obsession started long before then. The absolute annual highlight of my childhood was Halloween. Back then, trick or treating was an hours-long event where we hurried from house to house, ran home to empty our bags and headed back out to fill them again. If someone was giving out regular-sized candy bars, the word would spread quickly and you made sure to get there before the supply ran out. After it was all over, I would sort my haul and gloat over the chocolate like Scrooge over his money. Occasionally, my mom or dad would take something, but essentially, it was mine. All mine.
Unfortunately for my own children, my chocolate jones stayed with me into adulthood. Like any addiction, it caused me to indulge in behavior I was later regretful about. When it comes to chocolate, I am a firm believer in instant gratification, which has led to certain incidents that have become the stuff of family legend.
When my boys went out trick or treating I made sure, as a good mom, to check everything they brought home. Then at night, when they were sleeping, I would creep into their rooms with a flashlight, ferret out the candy stash and help myself to the chocolate. Once, my son woke up and asked what I was doing. I was never able to convince him he was dreaming.
Quite possibly the worst thing I ever did was decapitate my younger son’s solid chocolate rabbit one Easter. My sons each received one, though by then my older boy was smart enough to hide his really well. I got hold of the younger one’s rabbit and discovered that after devouring its ears, it was impossible to break or bite pieces off. After a few frustrating minutes, during which I gnawed on the head and left behind tooth marks that looked like a beaver’s, I put it back in its cellophane wrapper, tying it shut with the jaunty little ribbon that had adorned its neck. With my son trailing behind, I marched downstairs to our work area, clamped the rabbit in a bench vise and grabbed a hammer. My son loves to tell this story.
I knew things had gotten out of hand when one of the boys had to sell chocolate bars for a school fundraiser and I ate most of them. I would make a mental note to put a dollar in the collection envelope each time I delved into the box. Then the day of reckoning arrived – the proceeds were due at school. There was one chocolate bar left and hardly any money. I jokingly told my son, “you’ll have to sell that last one for $40 if you expect to break even.”
I could tell more stories but all this writing about chocolate reminds me – the stores close soon and I’m sure I can get to one that sells sponge candy if I leave now.