Now I Understand Dark Chocolate

My wife bought some dark chocolate for us at the bookstore. It was one of those thick, expensive bars sprinkled with sea salt.

At this time and place, stupidly expensive dark chocolate is about as decadent as the wife and I can afford to get. The bar of chocolate was in her lap as we drove along. She was trying to unfold the wrapper when the foil made the slightest noise.

“What was that?” Jacks asked from the back of the mini-van.

“Chocolate,” my wife said, then cursed under her breath. “This is dark chocolate. You wouldn’t like it.”

“Ooohhh,” Beth said. “I want some! Gimmee, gimmee some chocolate. Puh-leeeezzzzz-ah!”

The other three kids chimed in. It was a chorus of pleading that only got louder the longer we tried to ignore it. My wife frowned as she broke off four little squares and distributed them to the back of the vehicle. In seconds their smacking lips gave way to strange gurgles. When I glanced in the rear view mirror it looked like chocolate eating zombies had invaded the van. My kids were gagging and clutching their throats and streams of chocolate saliva were running down their chins.

“This is disgusting!” Wilkins yelled.

Beth, ever the lady, rolled down her window to spit out what was left of her sample, then spit a few more times for good measure, no doubt leaving a trail of chocolate down the side of the vehicle. Then, because she is a social media kind of girl, she took a staged selfie of herself spitting the chocolate out of the window. Once they had all gotten the chocolate out of their mouths the four kids quickly reached a noisy consensus. Dark chocolate was nasty.

The first time I tasted it, I agreed. Why would we want to take something as wonderful as chocolate and make it taste like something totally different? And dark chocolate now has all kinds of stuff in it: pistachios, apricots, sea salt or cherries. It can also be spicy or toffee flavored. I even saw one mixed with quinoa. Oh yeah, they put a “healthy” label on it, too. (I didn’t see it at the time, but someone with great foresight was clearly trying to scare off the kids.)

The thing is, now I get it. Dark chocolate is a parent’s chocolate. Does that mean it suits our adult taste buds? Of course not. Try this experiment at your house. Leave a regular chocolate bar on the counter in your kitchen and come back fifteen minutes later. That package will look like it has been ravaged by Old Testament locusts. Now, leave dark chocolate in your kitchen and come back fifteen minutes later. It will be untouched. Or, worst case, the foil will be torn rudely open and one square will be missing. Next to that will be a small blob of dark chocolate where the offending child immediately began to regurgitate something they will refer to as “the most butt-ass, disgusting thing they ever tasted.”

So, we take what was wonderful, make it a little gross, and, in essence, “child-proof” it so there is some small chance we can “sort of” enjoy what it was supposed to be in the first place. It is what parents are forced to do.

The same is true for underwear and socks. I used to have normal underwear. Now I buy uncomfortable, strange looking underwear, just so I can have some when I need them. And ditto for the socks. That’s because children are short, little televangelists. All they say is “give me, give me, give me,” and whatever you give is never enough. When they don’t get their way they cry hysterically. And sometimes they also cry when they get what they want, and what they had coming to them, like dark chocolate covered with sea salt.

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