Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What I Think About on My Way In

Here’s what I think about on the train, with Jackie, on my way in to drop her off and go to work.

I ate some chocolate last night, half a little chocolate rooster, or rabbit, or something—must have been a rabbit left over from Easter—some ridiculous shape they mold chocolate into, anyway, that makes you feel greedy and ashamed for having wedged it somehow into your jaw so you could snap it in two, little shards collapsing into its hollow core—it’s always disappointing that it’s hollow, and the disappointment deepens the shame—or falling to the kitchen floor where you’ll have to pick them up with a paper towel before they melt. It tasted good. It was milk chocolate, of course. I prefer dark chocolate. It makes you feel less silly, less of a child, with its hit of bitterness. Dark chocolate is serious. Wasn’t it as good as gold in Europe during World War II? All the books you read, the movies you see, people trade it on black markets, they bribe border officials with it, they break bars in half and share it with their lovers, they hand it to doomed urchins, their little arms straining from the windows of trains, in beautiful gestures of mercy. What did this chocolate look like? Had to be dark. Was it Swiss? Were the fucking Swiss pounding out chocolate and cuckoo clocks like they always did, oblivious to what took place around them, even as they turned away the Jews? I envision good, dark, sober chocolate, a little grainy maybe—the best cacao is hard to come by in the war—but so much better than the crusts of bread and boiled potatoes people lived on that it had to seem radiant, magical even, when you unwrapped it from its gray wax paper and beheld its smooth, ebony form. Some people in the War had all the chocolate they wanted. Imagine that. Nazis. Nazi officers could probably have chocolate all the time. And wine. Red wine, white wine. Champagne. They just marched into those wineries and chocolate factories and told those fucking peasants, you’re Nazis now. Keep making this shit. We’ll drink it. We’ll eat it. We’ll dispense a tiny fraction into the world and watch everybody else scurry around like rats to catch it. Carry on just like you did before. You’re leader is French, don’t worry. His name is Pétain. What a good, French name. Your government is safe and sound in Vichy. That’s a good, French town. You can go there to cure all that ails you. Don’t worry about a thing.