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Hot chocolate

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Why it’s okay to have a little now and then

I never used to be a chocolate guy. Typically my junk food yearnings leaned towards the greasy and salty, the hot and the tangy, rather than the sweet. I could eat pickles and potato chips all day.

Now I can’t wait for the Easter Bunny.

A dental surgeon pulled my wisdom teeth a few years ago. None of the teeth were seriously impacted so I wasn’t anesthetized for the procedure, but given some happy gas and local painkiller. I remember being in a great mood when my mom came to pick me up at the dentist, grinning like an idiot and drooling blood down my shirt. I put my jacket on inside out. For some reason I told my mom that "these were the best drugs I’ve ever had."

Then I went home and went to sleep.

When I awoke I was in serious pain. The happy gas had worn off, as had the local. I popped a few Tylenol 3s and a few Milk of Magnesia Tablets to ease the crippling constipation of the pain killers. I was physically sick a few times, likely from swallowing what appeared to be a bucket of my own blood.

I sipped a little water that day and went to sleep until the next afternoon.

When I woke up I found my face had swelled up to twice its normal size. I looked like a younger, fatter Alfred Hitchcock.

I couldn’t eat solid foods, or foods that were too cold or hot for three days. I drank warm soup to sustain myself. I tried eating a piece of toast and it felt like my stitches were popping out.

As a treat, my Mom bought me some hot chocolate, something I hadn’t tasted in years. I humoured her and made a cup for myself. And damned if it wasn’t the best tasting thing in the entire world.

Before the hot chocolate, I was sore and generally miserable. Every sip made me feel a little better until the mug was empty, and I was actually happy for the first time since the procedure.

I made another cup after that, and it was even better than the first. By the time I was well enough to eat solids I’d finished the box of 12 packages and was well into a second one.

Ever since that time I’ve had a funny relationship with chocolate. I crave it, yet I stay away from it because I didn’t want to be come some kind of Family Ties chocoholic, reaching for the tub of double chocolate fudge ice cream to console me every time something went wrong in my life. Besides, from what I knew it wasn’t healthy.

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