Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Just Cover it in Chocolate

I heard a story on the news the other day about a woman who is suing a radio station because of the prize she won. The station had sponsored a contest where the top prize was advertised as “a hundred grand.” However, when the woman went to the station to claim her prize, she was handed a Nestle’s 100 Grand candy bar.

The woman, who’d earlier promised her children that she would buy them, among other things, a new van and a house with a big back yard, was not amused. In fact, she left skid marks in her haste to get to her lawyer’s office.

I, on the other hand, probably would have been thrilled with the candy bar. You see, I have been addicted to chocolate ever since I was two years old and crawled behind my grandmother’s sofa. That’s where I found her hidden stash of five pounds of Fanny Farmer chocolates. I didn’t emerge again until every inch of me was chocolate-covered.

On that day, my chocolate addiction was born. I had tasted the forbidden fruit. I was hooked.

When I lived at home with my parents, my chocolate addiction was pretty much kept under control because my mother did all of the grocery shopping and knew that no piece of chocolate was safe around me. She even accused me of being able to sniff it out from 20 paces.

After I got married, however, I went wild. I even joined a wholesale shopping club so I could buy chocolate stuff in bulk. Soon, the kitchen cupboards were overflowing with chocolate Pop-Tarts, packages of hot chocolate mix, chocolate- chip cookies and big boxes of chocolate bars.

My worst addiction, however, was Brach’s bridge mix. Every day, I ate an entire box of the decadent chocolate-covered raisins, peanuts, almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, caramels and assorted creams. As I ate, I actually could hear the calories adding up (kind of like the sound of my house’s electric meter running), but I didn’t care. I had to have my daily bridge-mix fix.

Finally, there came a day when I realized that I had to cut back. My belt was so tight, I used the tip of a steak knife to poke an extra hole in it to make it bigger. My teeth were sprouting cavities so fast, it was as if they were breeding. And my complexion went from peaches-and-cream to rocky road.

During my period of self-imposed chocolate withdrawal, my husband, who was hooked on Three Musketeers bars (but possessed enough self-control to eat only one per week), still kept a box of them in the closet in the spare room. Three Musketeers bars never had been my favorites, mainly because they were too airy to satisfy my cravings. And their chocolate coating was much too thin to suit me.

One night, however, after my husband had gone to bed and I was sitting alone watching television and desperately craving a box of bridge mix, I heard voices calling out to me from the spare room. “Saaaally! It’s us! The Three Musketeers…with our fluffy chocolate nougat, drenched in creamy milk chocolate! We are in here, waiting for you!”

I couldn’t bear it any longer. I dashed into the spare room and tore into those candy bars. A pile of silver wrappers littered the floor as I inhaled my husband’s precious stash. By the time I was through, the Three Musketeers had been reduced to the Rest-in-Peace Musketeers. And I was so full of chocolate nougat, I felt as if someone had filled me with blown-in insulation.

The next day, I rolled out of bed (and I do mean “rolled”) and headed to the wholesale club to buy a box of replacement Three Musketeers bars to put in the spare room before my husband could discover that his were missing.

There were 36 candy bars in the box, so I had to hide 25 of them, because my husband’s stash had been only 11 the night before. Or was it 12? My heart began to pound. “Oh, calm down!” I told myself. “He won’t even know the difference.”

Once again, I’d figured wrong.

“Strange,” my husband said a few nights later when he ventured into the spare room to get his weekly candy bar. “I had only nine candy bars left the other night, and now there are 11!”

“Oh, you probably just counted wrong,” I said.

“No, I distinctly remember counting 10 of them and then eating one. So how could there be 11 of them now?”

I managed a nervous laugh. “Maybe the Three Musketeers fairy paid you a visit?”

I ended up eating all of the extra candy bars I’d hidden from him. It took me a while, but I finally polished them off. And after that, I rarely touched chocolate again…not even bridge mix. In fact, I couldn’t even look at chocolate for a long time, not without visions of the Three Musketeers, their swords painfully jabbing my bloated belly, coming back to haunt me.

Lately, however, twinges of my former chocolate cravings have begun to resurface. So far, I have managed not to succumb to them.

But now that I think about it, maybe I ate only 23 or 24 of those 25 extra Three Musketeers bars that I hid from my husband.

Funny, but I have a sudden urge to go rummage through some drawers.