Blog: Box of Chocolates

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Burt Ross

My most recent column referred to a box of chocolates, and that in turn reminded me of something that happened several years ago, which remains stuck in my mind.

I was driving from New Jersey up to the Adirondack Mountains to visit my brother and his wife Barbara. I decided to bring her a box of chocolates for what was probably her birthday, which by some quirk seems to come around exactly once every year at around the same day.

I bought my sister-in-law a whole pound of individual chocolate candies which was, to be perfectly honest, more than the least I could do, since I could have bought her half a pound. It was a veritable mountain of chocolate, and I would be lying if I told you I do not like chocolate. I do–very much.

Now, if you know me well, you know I like things to be in order, and I am especially fond of symmetry, and those chocolate candies were not lying in the box in a symmetrical manner. I can tell you that. So, I took just one candy off the top right side of the box. My bride warned me that it was impolite to eat somebody else’s candy, but I made it clear that symmetry was more important than etiquette every time.

The taking of that one chocolate on the right side made the left side appear a bit lopsided, so to even things out, I popped a piece of chocolate from the left side into my mouth. My bride warned me again that Barbara might notice some chocolates were missing, but I assured her that with all those pieces remaining, nobody would notice the absence of a mere piece or two, or three. I just told you, I like chocolate.

When I arrived at their home and gave the box to my sister-in-law, I was expecting effusive appreciation. She opened the box, took one look, and rather than thank me for my generosity, she asked, “Who ate some of the chocolate?” I could not believe my ears. How a person, especially a relative (even if only through marriage), could accuse me of such a dastardly act, was and still is beyond my comprehension.

I was under attack and surely felt the need to defend myself. I mustered up all the self-righteousness I could, and proclaimed my innocence, “Look at all those pieces of chocolate. How could you even think I would do such a thing?” I asked rhetorically. Barbara was not moved one little bit. She noticed the tips of some of my fingers had a distinct chocolate coloring to them and was rude enough to point this out to me.

I have learned one thing from this unfortunate episode. I will never bring my sister-in-law chocolates again. Perhaps I could bring her a dozen roses in the future, but I assume she would count them and not be very pleased were I to remove one of them for a vase in my hallway.