“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
– Charles M. Schulz
I’m going on a date with who?!
Not too long ago I went on a date. My best friend Rosie told me all that I needed to know about her classmate Chris was that he was really nice and had a great sense of humour. He was supposedly a bit older but she said it didn’t matter since I’m an old soul. Curious, I went along with my friend’s ploy.
After much back-and-forth texting, one Saturday we finally managed to line up our schedules. I wasn’t too nervous but I still counted down the days. Sadly, as the days grew closer so did my worries: Was I going to be attractive enough? Smart enough? Am I even that funny? What about my braces situation?
After asking myself all these questions, I was totally deflated. So I turned to my friends for support. Like all good gal pals, they built me up again after I had torn myself down with negative thinking. Once again, I felt like myself and finally ready to go on this date. My first actual date.
The First Impression
We met up at around seven o’clock for dinner. My first impression was exactly how Rosie described him. He was a really nice guy. And super sweet, like, incredibly sweet. Though I probably wouldn’t see him due to his quirkiness and eccentricity, I still felt like I was in good company.
At dinner we talked about the basics: school, interests, hobbies. It’s the superficial stuff that no one really cares about but you have to discuss anyway. It wasn’t until after we finished and decided to grab something sweet that I had a change of heart.
There’s an old saying that says something like “Judge a drink, judge a character.” As I heard him order a hot chocolate, I did some serious judging. What twenty-something orders a hot chocolate at a coffee shop? Being six years my senior, I thought for sure he would have ordered an espresso, an Americano, something that at least sounded sophisticated. Hot chocolate. Childish move.
I watched him grin. His dimples chiselled deep into his cheeks. However, they faded when he caught a glimpse of my unimpressed expression. I planned to order my standard chamomile tea but then thought, Screw it! Instead, we got two hot chocolates.
That’s when this tale truly began…
Trading Snapshots of Memories
“The last time I had hot chocolate I was nine,” I said. If only I could have frozen time in that moment. His wide eyes stared back at me in amusement. Is it really that shocking that I don’t order sugary, chocolaty drinks considering the health-conscious world we live in?
I continued, “Yup, chubby and dressed in a pink winter coat with matching snow pants. I was at an outdoor skating rink with my dad. I remember it snowed as we skated, trying to catch snowflakes on our tongues. At the end of the night, we shared hot chocolate on a park bench and we talked and laughed.” After listening to my little story, I watched as Chris smiled from ear to ear. Holy hell! His blue eyes pierced right through me like little diamond daggers.
Change of Heart
Even though it’s mid May and still cold, he led me outside. We walked until we found a park bench to sit on. Wow, the man knows how to listen! My glasses fogged as I took my first sip of hot chocolate. It tasted like nostalgia poured into a cup: warm, sweet and comforting.
I watched him take his first sip, thinking to myself about just how much he looked like one of those statues of a young Greek god. Doryphoros. I waited for him to finish and then asked him about his past. He took a deep breath and began. You just know that when someone takes a deep breath before telling you something that it’s going to be heavy.
Chris told me that he’s a prairie boy but it’s not fields of wheat that define him. He said he’s passionate about art and thinks that’s what saved him. He questioned my attachment to modern technology, saying he refused to become a slave to it like me. Of course, he said that with a straight face while proceeding to tell me that he maintains a blog, an Instagram page, Facebook account and LinkedIn profile. Out of necessity, obviously. When I called him out on it his ironic situation, the apples of his cheeks turned rosy. To be honest, he looked bashful and that made my heart do a somersault in my chest.
I took another sip of hot chocolate. It was so warm and inviting…just like his smile.
At this point, I felt myself being guided by his charms, seduced by his years and intrigued by his restlessness. Chris told me he is a minimalist both by choice and necessity and likes meditating to help him organize his thoughts. It’s safe to say that he’s a list guy. Though not impulsive, he said that he believes in leaving no stone unturned. When I asked why, he responded with “why not?” That’s fair, isn’t it? Or maybe I’m just too smitten to tell the difference?
The sun finally set and as it fell on his face, he glowed. I clutched onto my hot chocolate and begged him to continue. As he talked, I experienced flashes of us in the future, together. Doing random things, but together. It was a nice thought and I chewed on it for the rest of the night.
He shared how his family used to celebrate traditional Ukrainian Christmases and that hot chocolate and winter nights were synchronous when he was a kid. I’m sure I had a wide-eyed puppy dog look. I love when people share old family memories. Chris explained that even now, being thousands of kilometres away from Winnipeg, he still calls his siblings everyday and has a cup of hot cocoa when he misses them. There was a childlike innocence when he spoke of his youth that really captivated me.
He even told me about the fondest memory of his late mother. I wanted to cry at that very moment because his words sounded like poetry. I couldn’t catch my breath for a solid minute. It was just so intimate to share, period. Yet, he shared this memory with little ole’ me. I felt special, like a piece of him pulsed through my veins already.
I don’t even particularly like hot chocolate but there’s something about sharing something with someone that they hold in high sentiment. Being there with him felt familiar and it woke something inside of me. It reminded me of the coziness of a mother’s embrace or the ease of speaking with an old friend.
Sometimes the best conversations are those had with a cup of something warm in hand.
How did flicker turn to flame?
Well, I don’t want to say that hot chocolate helped me to connect with my date on a deeper level buuuut, hot chocolate definitely helped me to connect with my date on a deeper level!
When we share our favourite things with others, we share pieces of who we are intrinsically. Sensory experiences are meaningful. They make us feel good, bad, comforted, etc. When we have the opportunity to share them, it reinforces our bond with others.
Something as simple as sharing a cup of hot cocoa can give us a sense of security and happiness. For Chris and I, it recalled moments of nostalgia and comfort. We were able to more freely communicate and understand each other due to the magic of how food and drink bring people together. I’m not sure what the future holds for us, but one thing is certain, hot chocolate will always taste just a little bit sweeter!
A Hot Chocolate Kinda Love Recipe
* Makes 2 servings *
- 2 cups cashew milk
- ¼ cup Nutella
- 1 tablespoon semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- In a saucepan, combine the cashew milk, Nutella, semisweet chocolate chips, vanilla and salt.
- Place over medium high heat and bring to a simmer while whisking constantly until everything dissolves.
- Allow the mixture to come to a full boil and continue whisking for a few more seconds until the hot chocolate thickens.
- Pour evenly into two mugs and enjoy!