Friday, April 1, 2011

In which I eat the Good Chocolate and then have to go all over San Diego to replace it

I'm running out of drama, or at least I am running out of drama inflicted on me by other people. What remains is the drama I have inflicted and that is not as much fun to write about because I want you to like me and it's easier to like someone who has not done crummy things to other people.

Today I am going to write about a small drama that ended up OK, but I will tell you about something mean and sleazy I did to another woman. As in, I had a one-night stand with her boyfriend even though I had met her and liked her.

Tres sleazy, I think you will all agree. Yes, I am ashamed and sorry and I never sought her forgiveness because I would have been easing my own conscience at the expense of her pain of being betrayed by her boyfriend, who had talked about marrying her.

Today I am going to tell you about the time I was staying with my Peace Corps friends Janet and Marty at their house in San Diego. They had very generously offered a spare bedroom and meals while I looked for a job in southern California. You may remember that I ended up working for the UT alum at his factory in Tijuana in the heroin district, a story that inspired an angry Tijuana commenter to claim that there was no heroin in Tijuana and I was a big, fat liar who was trying to discredit Mexico and Mexicans and whatever. I deleted him. I believe in free speech and if you don't like what I say, you are free to get your own blog and talk trash about me.

This was pre-internet days. Job hunting was done the old-fashioned way - by looking at ads in the newspaper or calling your alumni office for the names of alumni in the area who might be disposed to hire another alum.

All that work to find a job meant that I was not doing much work to find a job. Instead, I was spending a lot of time alone in Janet and Marty's house, riding my bike to the beach, cooking supper for all of us (at least I hope I did that - this was a while ago and I don't remember much) and looking in the fridge every five minutes to see if something new and interesting had appeared.

There was something interesting in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator.

An entire unopened, cellophaned box of Belgian chocolates.

Fancy chocolates.


I watched that box for days, hoping that it would miraculously open and I would be free to sample a chocolate or two.

It did not open.

Did not open. Did not open.

Finally, one day, I did it.

Janet and Marty were at work. I was alone with the dogs and the chocolate. The dogs were smart, but they couldn't talk. My secret would be safe. Except for the opened part, of course.

Reader, I opened it.

I opened the box of chocolates.

Tore off the cellophane. Lifted the lid. And ate of the Forbidden Chocolates.

Oh they were so good. They were filled with hazelnut praline.

Delicious Forbidden Chocolates.

But now I have a problem.

There was no way to conceal my transgression.

No problem! I'll just replace the box!

Remember. Pre internet. In those days, to replace Forbidden Chocolate, you had to open the yellow pages and call various stores.

Which is what I did.

Only to find out that not only were these Forbidden Chocolates but they were also Very Expensive Imported Belgian Chocolates.


What to do? What to do?

I took the almost-empty box with me and set out to find Replacement Chocolate. I went to store after store. Most of them didn't even have Very Expensive Imported Belgian Chocolates.

I started to sweat. This was what I got for eating Forbidden Chocolates. My friends had opened their home to me and this was the thanks they got? A Forbidden Chocolate Eater in their midst? Could a guest be more ungracious than to consume the Very Expensive Imported Belgian Chocolates without invitation?

What was I going to say? Oh the shame, the shame! of violating a social norm.

I pulled into the parking lot of Trader Joe's. I'd heard about the store but had never shopped there. Might as well check it out. I like grocery stores. I like food, so what's not to like about a place that sells food? When I travel to a foreign country, I like to wander the aisle of the grocery stores and see what's what. In Bristol, we found a grocery store where vegemite and peanut butter were behind the counter, along with the cigarettes and booze. Who would think to shoplift peanut butter? Not me. But then, maybe I would, being the budding criminal that I was.

I wandered the aisles. Found frozen foods, a category where I usually do not shop as I prefer fresh and unprocessed. Why buy frozen pizza when it's so easy to make your own and homemade tastes so much better?

And there. Above the frozen french fries. There it was.

The Very Expensive Imported Belgian Chocolates.

The exact same box that I had opened at Janet and Marty's house.

Saved. Saved! I didn't care how much it cost, I wanted those chocolates.

I pulled the box toward me.

And discovered they cost about $5.

They were not Very Expensive Imported Belgian Chocolates, at least, not at Trader Joe's.

They were Rather Inexpensive Imported Belgian Chocolates.

Even now, they cost only $26 a pound on Well, $26 a pound is not an "only," but it also won't break the bank.

I bought the chocolates. Replaced the old, now-opened box with the new, pristine box. Kept my mouth shut. Haven't eaten Forbidden Chocolate since.


  1. Funny you remember this transgression from so long ago. Mary Karr, the writer, who has had a lot of bad stuff happen to her, says she doesn't think about those things but she thinks about the bad things she's done to people. At least, you'll never have a Belgian chocolate addiction.

  2. I know! I guess if I had to choose, I would be more like Mary, because I would like a chance to right my wrongs rather than have someone else make a novel out of them.

    And yes, my chocolate addiction has abated. Aversion therapy, perhaps?


Primo reads this blog, so please keep that in mind in your comments.