72: The No-Share Zone

72: The No-Share Zone

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness

The No-Share Zone

Don’t wreck a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty.

~Lora Brody

I am a disciplined person, especially when it comes to food. I watch what I eat. I regularly consume admirable quantities of fruits and vegetables. I strictly monitor my intake of sweets, resisting that deep craving to sink into the blissful blur of sugary extremes. I do not keep cookies, candy or cakes in the house. I rarely allow myself to order dessert in a restaurant. If I must have chocolate, I make sure I have to walk to the store (preferably through rain or snow) to get my candy fix.

But my discipline disappears when it comes to the Personal Box of Chocolates.

When such a gift comes into my life, I abandon all pretense of sensible eating and sink into that rare environment that many adults silently yearn for — the No-Share Zone.

This is what happened when a dear friend handed me a wrapped birthday present.

“Don’t leave this sitting out in the heat,” she said and I knew it contained chocolate. That night, I tore into the wrappings, then reverently removed the plastic that protected a small Whitman’s Sampler.

I eased off the lid and smiled when I saw eight pieces of cozily cradled candies.

That small box of chocolate transported me to that mystical Zone, where politeness yielded to the primal and I embraced a supremely selfish, divinely decadent indulgence of the highest order. I was home alone. I was going to eat what I wanted, how I wanted, and I was not going to consider any other human being in the process.

Lavishly, I bit into two chocolates, the caramel and the coconut. I loved the insolence of only partially eating each one.

Then I reviewed the remaining chocolates, thinking about the order I might sample them in. I had no thoughts of calories or restraint — I had only the pure joy of possession.

Normally, of course, I loved to share. Had someone been around, I might have pleasantly offered her a chocolate. Had my friend given me a larger box, I would have saved it for a party or meeting. But she wisely fulfilled the secret wish of the chocolate-obsessed: permission to graze, glory, gorge and revel in sweet sensation.

When I was growing up, the Whitman box came into our household once a year, a symbol of romance from my father to my mother. My mother, normally a very sharing person, kept tight rein on the Sampler. Her face looked almost pained as she offered my brother and me one chocolate each. I remember studying the map of those chocolates more carefully that I ever studied any atlas. Nuts, chews, creams, caramels — making the right choice was crucial. After that one luscious candy, the box would disappear, hidden somewhere in my mother’s bedroom.

At the time I thought my mother was selfish and unfair. But now, I understood and applauded her. Like so many moms, I realized how much she had to share, all day, every day. I imagined how utterly luxurious she must have felt, surveying her box of chocolates, sampling, tasting, and savoring, without worry that anyone would interfere.

Like my mother before me, my candy box allowed me to simply care for myself. The bliss of the No-Share Zone, that lovely luxury of not worrying about even one other person, renewed and delighted me.

My small Sampler was an invitation to be frivolous and beautifully indulgent. I took a bite of a nut bar and let the flavors flow through my mouth. For this moment, I was feeding only myself and that made the chocolate even sweeter.

~Deborah Shouse

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