A chocolate addict is forced to attend an "Addicts Anonymous" meeting.
|The florescent bulbs are too bright overhead. They reflect off the baldhead just leaving the chair at the front of the sterile little room. Concrete floors too shiny in the light glisten and I squint against my impending doom, squirm self-consciously in my chair. It’s my turn next, I can tell. The bland face of the wrinkled old lady, the patronizing instructor turns to me with a grimace she thinks passes as an encouraging smile.
“Natalie, you’re next dear.”
I thirst to mock her annoying stare. I wonder what she’d do if I stuck out my tongue? Unfortunately, I manage to control myself and don't find out, “Great, thanks.”
The faces of the middle-aged crowded around me crane to stare, like little lost puppies at the pound. They’ve all been beaten down by life. Like me. Disgusted by my thoughts I spring from my folding metal chair and tug nervously on the hem of my shirt as I stalk to the front of the room, all senses alert. Casually I plop myself down. The chair of shame, where everything you’ve ever done wrong is supposed to poor out like bubbles down a bathtub drain. I take a deep breath and try to block everyone else out. That woman’s face is like a shark’s fin. Hmm. Judgmental, is that why I’ve been remanded here?
“I have a confession to make.” I state with a certain amount of premeditated disdain.
The crowd choruses back, “What’s your confession Natalie?”
“I am…” Not in the right place, do not belong here, especially not...damn that man's got alota hair!
“Addicted?” a raspy voice interjects when I pause, indulging in thought.
My eyes squeeze shut as I fight the dirtiness of such a label, such a word. No!! I-am-FINE! I break conduct code. Again. Of Course. “No, I wouldn’t say that. I believe it’s more of an infatuation that I can’t escape.”
“What are you addicted to Natalie?” the crowd asks.
“I’m not addicted!” I shout rising from my chair to grip the handrails, my face a mask of fury, wrinkled brow, blonde hair jumping as I lean toward the crowd.
“Really dear, that’s not how we conduct our meetings. We’re all here to help each other. The first step is admitting something’s wrong. Denial only lengthens recovery time.”
Wrinkled old woman, always bothering everyone. I grimace, “Fine. I’m…addicted…to chocolate.” The last I caress as it rolls off my tongue like water. Chocolate….mmm.
“Why are you here tonight Natalie?”
Dark Chocolate drizzled over strawberries, licked from a chocolate spoon, covering my hands as I… “Sorry. What?”
“Why are you here?” Each syllable is enunciated as the instructor translates for the crowd.
Such simpletons they have no concept of what I’ve done, what I plan to do. Why am I there? They have absolutely no clue. Their eyes prod me to answer and I wiggle a little in the shameful chair. I have places to go, things to do.
“Tomorrow is Halloween.” I plead as though that answers everything, “It’s the beginning of the free chocolate season." I announce when the sea of faces only stares back, "It’ll be everywhere. How can I resist? I don’t want to resist!” I add quietly, hoping they won’t hear. I collapse spent back in the chair, sliding down to slouch with my legs grazing the concrete floor.
The old lady moves to stand in front of me, her flowered housedress blocking the sea of chairs, the snickering faces, and knowing sneers. Placing a wrinkled hand under my chin, she raises it so I’m no longer looking at the chocolate brown suede of my shoes and imaging basking in a tub of dark temptation. A sharp slap against the cheek brings me fully back awake; I growl and glare as she hobbles back to her chair.
As she settles back down she waves a hand, “Continue dear.” I could probably string her up with a chocolate rope…
Against my will I drag my face back to the crowd waiting expectantly in front of me. I sigh, “Halloween is the beginning of a time…a time where if I happen to consume my weight in chocolate, no one will notice. Or so I keep telling myself.”
It’s not that I can’t control my habit of consuming large amounts of Ghirardelli, Lindt, and Hershey. It’s more that I don’t wish to appear rude. I can’t refuse to take the candy someone so generously gives me.
“I will freely admit that chocolate is probably an addiction. But it isn’t nearly as bad as being an alcoholic.” There are glares from alcoholics who have already soiled the shame chair, I try to be covert as I lean forward and glare, “I mean…yes I have eaten chocolate until I was sick. Yes, I will admit to hiding and hording my fun-size Crunch bars so I could have them all to myself. And yes, I have taken chocolate from the hands of small children. But seriously! Where were their parents? I simply liberated that poor chocolate and made parents everywhere aware of what happens when you leave your children alone on Halloween.”
I’m using my hands for emphasis as I continue to spew, knowing I’m right to think the way I do, cursing the judge who thought ‘Addicts Anonymous’ would be a virtue.
“Is this so bad? I simply saved a helpless creation from a bad consumer.” Those costumed children were melting precious chocolate bars by holding on too tight, leaving soiled wrappers on the streets with one of God’s greatest creations still stuck to foil paper.
“Besides chocolate in small amounts is actually good for you. After all dark chocolate, which happens to be my first choice,” I digress pointing to my chest, “lowers blood pressure and bad cholesterol!”
I’m not so sure about this “small” amounts thing though. My small portion is usually half the giant Ghirardelli bar you find down the candy aisle at Wal-Mart. But as long as I get on the treadmill a couple of times a week I don’t see anything wrong with this habit, it’s not like I drink pop. I simply consume chocolate like it’s water and I’m hiking through the desert.
“I like to think of it not so much as feeding an addiction, so much as feeding the economy; after all we are in a recession and I have to tame my chocolate monster.”
The old lady moves to the front of the room, stands with one of her wrinkly hands on the shame chair. Pats my hand where it’s clenched in my lap, like an owner with a dog who’s sat down when told and does a trick for a snack.
“That’s very good Natalie. You may return to your seat.”
Pushing myself from the chair I start to slink back down the aisle when a voice comes from the back of the room. “How’d you end up here?”
Sighing I grimace, “Though they couldn’t jail me for gluttony, assaulting an officer for chocolate is apparently a crime. The jury was not impressed when I pled not guilty to assault and instead asked to enter a plea of guilty to liberation of chocolate everywhere.”
The room erupts in laughter. Even the grouchy old woman can’t seem to hold her hilarity in. Maybe that’s why my lawyer quit. I return to my seat and wait for the session to end.
Word Count: 1247