Sweetheart. Honey pie. Sugar plum. Let me nibble thee.
In Charlottesville we are blessed to have Gearhart’s chocolates: hand-dipped artisanal ganache of fine quality, crafted with Criollo Cacoa from the finest Venezuelan plantations.
It’s what you give your wife for your Anniversary (when you remember it) … and Valentine’s Day (when they’re not sold out) … and Mother’s Day … and her birthday … and, well, whenever you feel you’ve been “inattentive” lately. Roses work, too. But you can’t share them in quite the same way.
Gearhart’s don’t come in heart-shaped boxes, but the intention is the same. They intend to say, “I love you.” And the opiates and amphetamines (endorphins, serotonin and phenylethylamine) that they trigger in your brain, up your blood pressure, eliciting feelings of excitement – a bit like love … or, a bite like love.
But is it love? When a mom prepares a pie for her family, does that not demonstrate devotion? When a teacher cooks cupcakes for her class, does that not bespeak her best intentions? When a bus driver doles out tootsie rolls, is that not a cause for a round of “Here’s to the busdriver, the greatest of all?”
A doctor’s lollipop. A handful of hugs on Halloween. Sugar’s how we show we care. For others and ourselves. When the world seems an unwelcome place, nothing says “I love me” like a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. For the moment, anyway. You might hate yourself in the morning.
What happens when the honeymoon is over? And the sweetness has begun to seem saccharine? And you’ve bought your hundredth box of Gearhart’s – making the gesture, now merely mechanical, lose its meaning?
Is, in fact, sugar more like a Hallmark card? The thing you give when you don’t have the time or energy to write what you mean to say. Or perhaps you simply feel obligated. As a commodity, sugar is cheap and always in stock – unlike authentic emotions, which are in scarce supply.
If you’re short on the sugar, are you lacking in love? Is a house bereft of Oreos, a den of a deprived childhood? When there’s no dessert, does it mean the neighbors, with their ambrosia, treasure their children more? When there’s nothing in the lunchbox but soup and a sandwich, the other kids at the cafeteria table indeed seem more popular (there and at home), munching on their Mallomars.
I’m not being bitter. Or sour. Taste has little to do with true feelings. Sugar simply does not equal love. (And Equal does not equal sugar, or love.) We confuse confections with affections. And fondness for fondant. Dove sounds like love, but you can’t nestle with Nestlé. So, next time, give me a squeeze when I ask you for “some sugar.”