A Chocolate Memory
A chocolate memory has been calling me, in much the same way that a few chocolate sweets hidden away at the back of the fridge will call me at times. The memory has been saying – tell me, tell me, in the same way that the sweets would call out Taste me, taste me.
So, despite my intention to remain silent on the matter of chocolate, it seems I have to give in to the call, and tell you the story of the birthday that changed how I feel about chocolate (and about birthdays) for life:
You picture it. December. A young girl’s 13th birthday. Cusp of womanhood. I got something as my gift from Mam and Dad. I don’t remember what. – The microscope was at 12. No. 13 is a blank, but whatever it was, it was negotiated between me and Mam, chosen, bought, wrapped and presented by her. Yes. And then, at 6 o’clock, Dad arrived home. I was at the door. I raced to open the door, and he had come bearing gifts. He had brought me a box of chocolates.
Of course, everything else paled into oblivion. – Anything else was just another gift. This was a first. This was Sweets for my sweet, this was All because the Lady loves… This was for me from my father. I seized them. I thanked him. I kissed him. I shared them, and yes, I still have the box, I just realised. It became my letter-box, my treasure-box, my under-the-bed place for special things, even after the disappointment, even after he’d told me, even after I’d gone and pursued it.
I asked – wanting to hear “Well, of course I thought of it myself!” and “How could I forget your 13th birthday?” – I asked “Dad, did you just go and buy them, just like that?”… and … Irish men are thick. Blame the fact that he didn’t have a mother or that he’d never read a Mills and Boon – or Freud, for that matter – for his response. He told the truth, the fool, and still I hold it against him and have not forgiven him.
He told me “NO”. He said he didn’t buy them. He said he’d forgotten the day that was in it. They were his first Christmas box, given by a salesman who called into the office. Chance, coincidence. Not mine at all. Nothing special. It could have been a diary or calendar. It could have been a bottle of whiskey, and I’d never have been set up for that fall. I’d never have had that few hours of believing that, in my father’s eyes I was special, in my father’s eyes I’d become a young woman who ought to have chocolates.
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