I knew I shouldn’t have gone shopping so close to dinner. But it was the fabric store; how much temptation can there be? It turns out, the wicked marketers of the universe (of which, unfortunately, I am one), have discovered that anywhere a woman is likely to wait in line is ground zero for a candy display. And where there’s candy, there’s chocolate. Normally I can whisk by a candy display stacked with peanut butter cups, Kit Kat bars and Almond Joys without so much as a second glance. To my grown-up tastebuds, these glossy-packaged containers of high fructose corn syrup that are merely flavored with cocoa are imposters. Pseudo-chocolates. The candy equivalent of trashy paperback fiction. I’ve learned the difference between unhealthy sweets and those with some genuine benefits. Okay, let’s put it right out there—I’ve become a chocolate snob.
But this is what I noticed while waiting behind a mom with four sugar-craving kids who kept trying to coerce her into buying them Snickers bars: The candy peddlers have gotten wise to us. Now they’re stocking those roll-up hypoglycemic dispensers with the good stuff. Little Raffaelo onsies. Slices of Godiva. Bite-size Dove. I zeroed in on a row of foil-wrapped Ghiradelli singles. The thought of 60% cacao melting on my tongue began to work on my pleasure receptors. Endorphins started to flow. The little foil packet was calling to me. Eat me. You know you want to.
I caved. I handed the cashier my pile of cut fabric, a pack of fusible hem tape, and the little envelope of contraband. She asked me if I wanted it in my bag and I said, as I ripped into the foil, “No, it’s for now.”
Honestly, I can’t think of any crisis in my life that hasn’t been improved with chocolate. Bad day at work? Fight with the boyfriend? Hot flashes? Nothing that a dose of the dark stuff couldn’t tackle. Chocolate is our remedy and Ectasy all rolled into one luscious legal substance. Chocolate is to women what Viagra is to our men folk—a guaranteed lift whenever we need it. It’s almost as if after God made Eve, he saw the aggravation Adam was going to cause—especially with Eve walking around naked all the time—and decided to create the cocoa bean so that women would have relief for all eternity. If there was any real temptation in paradise, I’m betting you it was a hot fudge sundae or a slice of chocolate cake layered with ganache filling, and not a boring old apple.
Men will never understand the obsession women have with chocolate, or why we’d even think twice about choosing a chocolate dipped strawberry over sex. There’s just no explaining the complete satisfaction minus emotional drama that comes from indulging our chocolate lust.
Now that I’m in my fifties and have experienced the myriad forms that lust takes, I can truthfully say that chocolate is often my vice of choice. Just for starters: you never have to worry that chocolate will reject you, or forget to call after a particularly steamy night in the sack. Chocolate is always there when you need it, especially in times when men most choose to be unavailable: i.e., your mother drops by for an extended visit with no day of departure set, or your roots are showing and you were just notified that the press is on its way for a publicity photo (this one has actually happened to me.) Chocolate loves us whether we’re having a fat day, suffering from menopausal brain freeze, or have developed age lines resembling the plains of Nazca. Chocolate never disappears when we want to watch Pride and Prejudice for the fiftieth time, and it never sulks off to its “man cave” when we won’t let it watch football. In short, chocolate is the perfect man. Delicious. Comforting. Always at our disposal.
The effect chocolate has on women’s psyches is so profound that manufacturers of every kind of imaginable product have added its essence, just to lure us in. There are chocolate scented candles, chocolate flavored lipstick, chocolate martinis, and, of course, the edible chocolate you slather all over your significant other’s edible parts (although I hear this is a sure root to yeast infections, so better to keep the frosting for the cake.)
For the same reason we love chocolate, there are things we never want product developers to come up with, thinking, as they do, that it’s a sure way to sell us their merchandise. Like chocolate scented wallpaper. If I was surrounded by the aroma of freshly baked, chocolate chip cookies all day, I’d gain ten pounds for sure. I don’t want anyone making the adhesive on envelopes chocolate-flavored—can you imagine the papercuts?—or spraying the inside of my car with eau de chocolate to replace the “new car smell.” The last thing I need is a constant subliminal urge to drive into Micky D’s for a chocolate shake. And we never—ever—-want to buy a package of chocolate-flavored condoms. I don’t care how advanced modern chemistry is: there’s no way you’re going to make latex taste like a fudge brownie. This would be an affront to women everywhere for whom chocolate is a sacred element, right along side wind, fire, water and air. It’s our respite in a crazy world. Our little bit of luxury in a belt-tightening economy. Chocolate, simply put, is the antidote to a life run on estrogen.
Really. To whoever makes these kind of decisions, listen up: don’t mess with chocolate. One hundred and sixty million post-menopausal women will hunt you down.