Thursday, September 29, 2005

You Know You Love Chocolate When...

My grandparents used to take an old camper trailer up to the mountains and spend days on the riverbanks, breathing the cool air and relaxing with the family. As a young kid, these are some of the best memories: crawling all over the insides of the camper, skipping rocks, floating the river, bait-fishing, hiking etc. And every night at the campfire we would bust out the graham crackers, Hershey's chocolate, and marshmallows, then roast up as many s'mores as you could eat.

I may not have ever mentioned my love of chocolate on this site before. Perhaps that's kind of a girly thing to say, and no, I don't eat it when I'm feeling unhappy, or plump, or stressed. I eat it ALL the time. I eat my chocolate like a man, as much as I want, whenever I want, for as long as I want.

The camper was already in poor shape when I was little, and it wasn't many years before we just stopped taking it out anymore. We would go an entire year without hitching it up. It was always a crappy Saturday when "Clean the Camper" showed up on your chore-list, because you knew you'd be holding your breath while wiping up mouse turds, and and beating out pounds of dust, mites, and who-knows-what-else out of its insides.

It was on precicely one of these Saturday camper-cleanings that I was rummaging around one of its upper cupboards, trying my best to clean the thing out...when I found a stash of three or four uneaten Hershey's bars. The paper wrapping was worn and tissue-like, indicating that it may have been damp in the cupbords for a time during the winter, and when I unwrapped the foil and pulled out the chocolate bar it had the look of something old and white. I knew I held in my hand something potentially dangerous. This chocolate didn't look right, but at the same time I KNEW it was chocolate. I had just pulled it out of the wrapper myself for heaven's sake, and I don't care how white or warped a Hershey's bar looks, that's still chocolate.

I actually sat and stared at it for a couple of minutes wondering if I should take a bite or not. I vaguely recall going inside the house and asking some aloof question to my mom about whether chocolate can go rotten. Whatever the answer I found myself back out in the camper minutes later, mouth wide open and the chocolate bar in my hands. I took a big bite and tasted nothing that resembled the creamy warm Hershey's I normally ate. This tasted crusty, stale, and not chewey at all, more like a bar of week old cheese-sponge, crumbly and decayed. I promptly spit it out, and went on cleaning. I was relatively sure the mice hadn't got to it, so I just shut my mouth and went about my business hoping I wouldn't die.

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