Candy from Strangers

Mystery Toblerone

Mystery Toblerone

The Toblerone is on the keyboard on my desk. It sits perfectly in line with the keys, suggesting that it’s been placed there and not, for example, dropped accidentally out of someone’s pocket.

This is a surprise. It’s also the moment my day starts to look up. Til now it’s been a bitch. There have been articles to write, tests to make, workouts to suffer through, and courses to plan.

I’m downright pissy.

The only thing that can quell my rising pissiness is bourbon or chocolate. And since I have just walked into work, chocolate will have to suffice.

I immediately break it open and shamelessly begin chomping on one end of it. I don’t care who’s watching. This is a Vishnu-send.

It occurs to me a short while later that if I were in a British detective series, I’d be dead. Or rather I’d die later in front of a class while extolling the virtues of the Oxford comma. The second thing that becomes clear is that I don’t care. Well, I sort of don’t. Well, I tell myself I don’t. I do things which tell myself and everyone around me I don’t care. I post a joke on Facebook about the ease with which an enemy could assassinate me with cyanide.

Shortly after making that joke on facebook – and to anyone within a thirty foot radius of me – its truth begins to fester like my brain after a batch of hemlock-laced chocolate chip cookies.

I begin making more overcompensating jokes to myself. In what is clearly a please get in my boat gesture, I offer a bite of the Mystery Toblerone to anyone in sight. In what is clearly a better you than us reaction, they all decline. I take another no poison chocolate’s gonna tell me what’s what bite out of the Mystery Toblerone and hide it in the corner of my desk for the medical examiner to find later on.

Nobody has yet claimed responsibility for the “gift” and when I ask my colleagues who put it on my desk, they all shrug. Paranoia seeps in further when I remember that today is a testing day and I could be the target of some crime in the name of academic aggression. I imagine a martyr, a beret-wearing student, who takes out the teacher so the others have a few more days to study their tenses and animal idioms through cheerful grief.

It seems so clear now. I marvel at my own foolishness.

I am going to die. Not only die, but die because of my own hedonistic vices, and ironically not even my main hedonistic vice. Like Keith Richards choking to death in a hotdog eating contest or Charles Bukowski drowning his brain in milk. Moreover, how can a good boy like me have veered so far from the most basic rule of childhood:

Don’t take candy from strangers

Of course, in this case it’s not even a stranger, it was just there on my desk. I just picked it up and stuck it in my mouth. I am so disappointed in myself.

Before I can induce vomiting, my boss comes in and tells me she gave me the Toblerone in thanks for a favor I did last week. I thank her. I look at the Toblerone with the same sort of countenance one does an inanimate object that has bested him. Face has been lost. And while I spend the remainder of the afternoon shepherding myself through a valley of my own shortcomings at least I’m not pissy anymore.

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