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    CHOCOLATE By John Scalzi

   Chocolate is God's way of reminding men how inadequate they are. I am
   vividly confronted with this fact every time my wife and I go out to a
   When it gets to dessert, my wife usually orders the most
   chocolate-saturated dessert possible: It's the one called "Unstoppable
   Double-Fudge Chocolate Mudslide Explosion" or some such thing. I
   always wonder why anyone would want to eat anything that promises a
   catastrophic natural disaster in your mouth.
   The dark brown monstrosity arrives at the table, and my wife takes the
   first bite. Before the fork is even removed from her mouth, a small
   moan escapes her lips. Her eyes, previously perfectly aligned, first
   cross slightly and then faze completely, pupils dilating in pure
   chocolate pleasure before the eyelids clamp down in ecstasy. The hand
   not holding the fork clenches into a fist and starts pounding the
   table. The silverware rattles.
   After about six minutes of this, she finally manages to swallow the
   bite, realign her eyes, and take the next shuttle back from whatever
   transcendental plane she's been visiting. Slowly, her sphere of
   consciousness expands to include me, her husband, her life-long mate,
   her presumed partner in all things ecstatic.
   "Hey, this is pretty good," she'll say. "You want some?"
   No, I don't. I want nothing to do with an object that does to my wife
   in one bite what I've worked for an entire relationship to achieve. It
   wouldn't do any good, anyway. Men just don't have the same
   relationship with chocolate that women do. It's not even close. I
   wandered around the office today and asked men -- "Chocolate. Your
   thoughts?" -- and the result was always the same. First, a confused
   look as to why they're being asked about something so trivial, and
   then some lame, obvious statement: "'s brown?"
   Ask women the same question, and you get responses like "The ONLY food
   group," "ESSENTIAL to life as we know it," and the ultimate casual
   swipe at every member of the Y-chromosome brigade, "better than sex."
   Ouch. Some women will try to make up for that last one by quickly
   adding that chocolate is supposed to be an aphrodisiac.
   Uh-huh. Chocolate certainly increases desire; problem is the desire is
   usually for more chocolate. The best a guy can do is buy a box of
   chocolates and hope he'll be considered somewhere between the cherry
   truffle and the strawberry nougat.
   Don't get me wrong. Guys like chocolate just fine; it's just not
   essential to life as we know it.
   Respiration is essential to life as we know it; chocolate is simply
   one of those nice little bonuses you get. We won't usually pass it up
   if it's offered, but I don't know too many guys who would get
   substantially worked up if it were to suddenly disappear from the face
   of the earth (ironic in a way, as back in the days of the Aztecs, only
   men were allowed to have the stuff). When I eat a chocolate dessert, I
   enjoy it, yes. My world view doesn't narrow to include only the plate
   that it's on.
   Maybe we're missing something. On the other hand, we don't have to
   pick up our silverware from the floor after we're done with our
   tiramisu. Life is about trade-offs like that. All I know is that come
   Valentine's Day, chocolate will be among the things I offer my wife. I
   can't truly appreciate it, but I can truly appreciate what it does for
   her. Which is close enough.

   copyright(c) John Scalzi

   John Scalzi is a columnist and humorist living in Virginia. For more
   columns and essays, visit his website:

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