This is a small piece I wrote for the April challenge on Creative Nonfiction Writing Forums. This particular theme was “a secret pleasure”. I hope you enjoy it.
I keep a stash of chocolate chips in the kitchen cupboard, behind the bags of loose green tea. They’re not hidden, exactly, but they’re discreetly positioned. My wife knows they’re there but she poses no threat because she’s not overly fond of them. It’s my son and his friends who worry me. Young eating machines capable of emptying the fridge in a single session, it has so far never occurred to them that there might be something to devour on the tea shelf.
When the world is too much with me, late and soon, I visit the tea shelf, shake out a few chips onto my palm, and lick them onto my tongue, letting them warm and melt across the taste buds. Only then do I squidge them between my teeth and bite down slowly, anticipating the flavour-burst rush of chocolate ecstasy. Repeat. Repeat once again. Then conclude with a small wash of cold milk.
Although not as writerly as scotch, or as Leaving Las Vegasy as marijuana, chocolate chips have done more than either to promote well being, mental balance, and happiness. In fact, I believe that one day neurologists will agree with me that the most distinguishing feature of human evolution has been the development of chocolate pleasure receptors in the brain.
This in turn caused intelligence to evolve in order that our species might learn first how to process chocolate, then turn it into little brain bursts of goodness, with flat bottoms and cute curlicue tops. The rest of the human intelligence business, such as spear points, transistors, and epic poems, has been a largely accidental byproduct.
I offer my solace to any not-quite-complete humans who claim not to like chocolate. Their lives may never be optimally gestalten, but they at least have the lesser comforts of scotch, marijuana, or, in extreme cases, vanilla. I’ve not heard of vanilla becoming anyone’s secret pleasure, but I allow for the possibility.
Chocolate chips are also comforting when found in cookies and ice cream, of course, but those tend to be public pleasures. It’s difficult to maintain a secret pleasure at an ice cream shop, a Starbucks, or a family dinner. But a slightly clandestine bag of chocolate chips in the cupboard, semi-sweet ones — Ghiradelli if possible — provides comfort to the writer and poet within in a hard-wired way that surpasses any alternative, not to mention the innate pleasure it provides in fulfilling one’s evolutionary heritage.