Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Confessions Of The Chocolate Fiend

I've noticed that mystery readers also have particular fondness for cats and chocolate. I like cats, myself, but chocolate? There's an obsession.

This goes back a long, long time, to when I was a teenager, sprouting the customary crop of acne, which unglued my mother no end. She forbade me to even sniff the brown skin poison, which made it necessary for me to stop at the corner confectionery on the way home, buy a chocolate ice-cream cone, a Hershey bar, or both, and make sure I consumed them before I darkened Mother's door.

Let no one tell you such behavior has no basis in heredity. From earliest childhood, my daughter Erin was also a chocolate fiend. She would sneak packages of chocolate pudding powder from the kitchen shelves, take them up to her room, open the box, wet her finger, dunk, and enjoy. When Myra, my wife, and I found empty boxes under her bed, Myra got upset. I suggested we ignore the matter, figuring that in those days (the early to mid-seventies), there were a lot worse substances Erin could've been sneaking.

One Saturday, when Erin was about twelve, she, her brother, and Myra went out, and I stayed home, writing. All of a sudden, I had an uncontrollable craving for chocolate. But the cupboard was bare. So - and I swear, this is just the way it happened - I walked into Erin's bedroom, opened the top left drawer of her eight-drawer dresser, reached beneath a pile of underwear, and closed my shaking fingers around a 3-inch-diameter lump of dark chocolate. Okay, I thought, I'll take just one bite.

After I'd reduced the heavenly block to about a half-inch square, I told myself I really ought to leave something for Erin for her own next emergency. So I returned the uneaten remnant to its resting place, and went back, sighing contently, to my typewriter.

Nothing further was said until many years later. I don't remember the trigger, but some chocolate-related remark prompted me to ask Erin, "Do you remember...?"

I thought she'd slug me. "Yes, I remember!" she barked. "You left me this tiny little piece of chocolate with tooth marks all over it. But you know what pissed me off the most? I couldn't say a word to you about it because I wasn't supposed to be hiding chocolate."

I told her there were worse substances I could've been sneaking in those days.

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