The day before yesterday, Wednesday, was a particularly good day in the world of me and my personal growth: I congratulated myself for having not eaten loads of chocolate in the past few months — well done Chris, I thought, now it’s time to reward yourself with the exact thing you’ve done so well to avoid. The people on the train around me didn’t know it, but they were sitting close to a one-time chocolate-time-bomb fiend who used to think nothing of downing 3 Cadbury’s creme eggs in a row (no joke). Someone who, coupled with a high-octane fast-food habit, genuinely thought this wasn’t too bad a diet. My problem — and there will probably be hatred towards me about this, even though it’s not my fault — is that it doesn’t matter what I eat, I just don’t put on weight. There, I said it, now please remember what I said about it not being my fault. If it’s any consolation, my nose is larger than average and I will watch Titanic if it’s on ITV 4.
Some people find steering clear of chocolate a simple thing to do — hate them hate them flippin’ hate them — but most of the time, the people I meet who manage this feat only manage it because they don’t really like the taste. So really, when you think about it, it’s not a challenge for them, is it? It’d be like someone hugging me and saying “really proud of you my friend, you haven’t worn a mini-skirt in ages!” I’d have to look the other way, ask them to move out of my personal space, and then ask them to seriously consider who they have been talking to about my clothes habits. Unlike a few dubious friends who I shall not mention, I have never worn any kind of skirt.
So we’ve established that I had decided to treat myself; and why not? I was a hard-working man with every damn right to walk into town and spend an extortionate amount of money on chocolate. And not just any chocolate either. Now I was ready for chocolate, I had to do it right. I deserved the very best.
I may have been deluded enough to think I deserved the best, but when I arrived in the shop of my choice, I was shown very quickly that I couldn’t afford the best. Actually that’s a lie. I could afford to spend £50 on a massive chocolate egg, but I couldn’t bring myself to. I love chocolate as much as the next one-time-chocolate-fiend, but every love has its limitations. As it turned out, mine was £8.95.
Of course, I didn’t know this when I walked in; at that point I’d have predicted I’d have been able to part with maybe as much as £15. I was much too busy trying to work my way around the shop to be concerned straight away with any of the chocolate wonders inside it (so–many–wonders). Like many of the shops on this section of the street, it was a small, boutique kind of a place. There were 3 shop assistant women, and their job descriptions were long and varied. One minute they had to pour hot chocolate for a fancy-pants customer who wanted only the continental best, the next they were on the till, the next they were apologising for being in my way (this happened not once but 3 times). In the end it got absurd, so, just in case this lady was living in a parallel universe where the shop was enormous, I felt obliged to point out to the woman — she seemed to be the one who was in charge — that it was actually a very small shop and inevitable, what with every customer bumping into a shop assistant more or less with every step. It was then, once I’d worked out how to avoid which assistant in what way, that I began to finally check out what was on sale.
To begin with, I had to stand still to do this — there were so many different things that when I moved around it all became just one big blur; standing still was my only strategy against the masses of stuff and it allowed me to just move my eyes about and check things out in a way that didn’t overload my brain. Soon I had decided that, no, I wasn’t buying one of the massive eggs with smarties (£150!), and that a chocolate hedgehog also wasn’t for me (after seeing gypsies eating hedgehogs willy-nilly on My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, eating a spikey traveller’s delicacy just didn’t sit right with me).
Whilst moving around the shop and looking at every single item, I noticed a number of things, such as: 1) these assistants hadn’t been trained to traditionally grab a bemused customer and baffle them to the point of desperation, thus parting with the maximum amount of money, which was bizarre, and 2) I was the only man in the shop. Far as I know, there was no reason for this. I took advantage of the lack of testosterone competition and paced about without a care in the world, other than to dodge assistants (and when I say I took advantage, I don’t mean I tried to proposition any of the assistants or customers. That’s not the right behaviour in this kind of shop — it might be in the newsagents, while perusing Wispa’s, Double Decker’s and Crunchie’s, but in the world of boutique chocolate, be warned that manners are everything: you just don’t get up to that kind of thing; everyone knows it’s offensive to the powers that chocolate be).
Of course, you can’t win them all, so there were disadvantages to the lack of assistance from professional chocolate knowers. One was that I couldn’t for the life of me work out what anything was actually made out of — other than the percentage everything was in Dutch, it was clear they were all chocolate — and another was that, left to my own devices, I was an indecisive mess of this-one-that-one. Before long, I made an executive decision: I would leave this place, get me some fresh air and return a short while later once I’d had a chance to ponder things to my liking.
…The rabbits were not of the refined Lindt golden bunny variety. No free bell, no golden foil wrapping. Instead, they were like the demented post twelve-neat-Vodka visions of Hans Christian Anderson, combined with the colouring of someone who liked red a bit too much. And blue. And gold. And giant rabbit ears. Also notable about the rabbits was the sinister expression of each. The male rabbit looked like he’d just killed someone in a nursery rhyme and the female rabbit (I coined her the rabbwoman) had her paws, or clawed hands (the designer did not do his or her anatomical homework) very close together, almost like a Meerkat that couldn’t be arsed to stand up straight. It was at this point that I started checking the prices: nobody wants to get too attached to a demented chocolate rabbit only to discover, all too late, that it is actually well out of his price league.
But I was in luck: each demented rabbit was a reasonable £8.95 — what could be considered a bargain when compared to some of the other similarly weird looking chocolate animals. With just two on show and a very interested woman with glasses hovering nearby in an unsavoury manner that wasn’t pleasant to be around, I made my selection. One demented female chocolate rabbit it was to be (I had compared them from all angles and decided that because the rabbwoman had a large dress, this one was much better value for money).
Armed with my chocolate, I left the shop and went round my brother’s, feeling chuffed that I had both treated myself and finally broken the curse of not having an Easter egg for years (it all stopped as soon as I was 21, and here I am at 31 — a ten-year-chocolate drought that definitely needed obliterating in style).
Sadly, at my brother’s, I pulled my rabbwoman out of my bag and was brought down to earth. First my brother’s housemate looked awkwardly at my purchase, making no effort to hide what he thought. Then my brother’s other housemate also looked at my purchase, replicating this same horrified look, but mixing it up with a bit of a disgusted frown and a direct comment designed only to hurt my deepest chocolate feelings: “mate, that looks hideous,” he said. “You actually paid money for that?”
It was then that I began to see the rabbwoman in a new and less savoury light. Now outside of the chocolate enviroment and in an atmosphere where there was nothing else weird to soften its impact, I was forced to admit that it was a bit strange..it transpired that I had bought a freakish, odd and thoroughly unique piece of confectionary that was not of the mainstream liking. Still, I didn’t give two shits what it looked like and what the mainstream thought. As long as it tastes good, I thought, I’ll be fine with that.