Pickles and Chocolate

November 20, 2008
By Rebecca Wallace, Muncie, IN

Pickles and Chocolate

I’ve always had the strangest of phobias. First and foremost, I’m utterly afraid of sharks. I. Hate. Sharks. When I was about four or five, one of my sister’s friends threatened to play the Jaws theme while I was taking a bath… yeah, that still scares me, even to this day. To this day, I can manage to psych myself into a ridiculous, imaginative horror scene, usually involving a great white shark popping out of the bathroom drain and devouring me. I still have mini-panic attacks if I’m alone in water that’s too deep or too dark. See, I really do believe a fear in sharks is justified, but my fear really does spread to immense paranoia.

But as I said, a fear of sharks is almost justified; my other phobia, however, is not. My other phobia happens to be pickles.

Although I’m doing a million times better, there was once a time that I would run away from pickles. Not necessarily big, slimy, uncut pickles or even pickle wedges. I don’t like sliced pickles. There is just something about… the smell… the texture… the look… the taste that seems to permeate through my senses, even when I don’t eat them.

They’re just awful creations of God, or whatever deity you wish to blame.

During freshman year, I sat at a table with all boys. Now mind you, I really did enjoy the company of all the boys -- me being the perverted, foul-mouthed, sarcastic tomboy that I am -- but this one day was the ultimate example of boy-ness. I had expressed my distaste for pickles the day or week before, and the boys had fun making sexual innuendoes and cold-hearted jokes. I took it like a big girl, but I didn’t expect what would happen next. Today, my friend B made a crack, but it ended with a certain ominous pause. I looked at him, then down at his ¬lap and there it was:
…a cup of sliced pickles.

The next thing I knew, all the boys revealed their own dripping, malodorous, cups of ridged doom. I leapt from the table and scrambled away in a rain of green slime. I ended up almost across the lunchroom, hiding myself next to another friend who so graciously blockaded me from the pickle storm. The boys paid dearly the next week, as I personally rained illustrious insults and never-ending nags upon their sinful little heads.

The unfortunate thing is that the some of the pickles remained on the ceiling lamp, never to be removed until almost the end of the year. I actually believe they fell off, as opposed to being scraped off by the janitor.

It is unfortunate how much the pickles remain an unrelenting symbol of my irritation. I’m not so much afraid of them anymore as I am just thoroughly annoyed. But like any female -- because believe it or not, I really am female -- when I’m irritated, I turn to my best friend: milk chocolate.

There is nothing like a creamy, melting, mouth-gasmic hunk of Cadbury’s milk chocolate to solve any problem. In some of the worst moments of my life, I always seemed to have a deluxe bar of goodness in hand. Family evicted? Chocolate. Bad break-up? Chocolate. Calculus being a pain? Chocolate. Unless you’re allergic, or one of the inhuman human beings that don’t like chocolate, it just makes you feel wonderful. And there are almost no consequences to “nomming” it like there are with drinking alcohol or spending days playing Sims or Halo.

So there seem to be two random pieces of food that represent my general outlook on life. A culinary duality that is the epitome of sweet and sour, yin and yang: the perfect analogy of my feelings to the three human beings that are W, J, and K.

I always hear that it is the trinity that is the beginning and end of everything. In the religion of Christianity, the trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is the ultimate. But somehow, in my experiences, the triangle was more like a quadrilateral. Actually, more than a quadrilateral, given the three-dimensional feeling of the situation -- it was a box. It was not a cube, because it was not solid, but rather open and often hollow. It only seemed to be hollow because of the number of people that hopped in and out of the box… though I won’t deny the presence of hollow feelings.

They are three other people, a lot like me -- intelligent, different, complicated, and utterly fascinating, to each other and to themselves. They started off a wispy triangle together, but I somehow managed to attach myself and tug everything into 90-degree angles. I was another twist in an already twisted trinity, but I felt a certain kinship to each of them.

K and I represented what each other wanted to be: I wanted to be brilliant at schoolwork and organization; K wanted to be in theater and be free-spirited. J and I had immense chemistry that made each other’s blood boil but created a motivating competition not unlike capitalism. W and I had a certain bond, being almost polar opposites in personality but connected by similar experiences and situations. These people were new and incredibly real. I had been used to the wannabe, soap opera drama that was middle school, so these people were a breath of fresh air.

It was obvious that high school drama would ensue. And it did. After a year of a budding friendship, the four of us got closer, and new feelings developed. Two of us even started dating, sparking a firestorm of jealousy and resentment. However, all of us were trying to act mature, so we hid the fire and brimstone, and continued camaraderie for another year. Three of us even left together for “special” school -- basically nerd school, which was utterly fitting for us. The last one lingered behind due to the title of valedictorian, which she was not going to waste.
After a while, I had literally spent three New Years’ with two of them, the remaining person present at the last one. But after that last New Year’s, everything crumbled.
One of the guys of the group bounced away with his own love interest, though he still felt rather indignant of the rest of us. The couple in the group split, the guy falling for the other girl in the group. Nothing ever came of them, and they stopped speaking to each other. That left the dumped girl to recoil into her self and to face almost a year of questioning and self-doubt. All in all, it became somewhat of a schism.

I’ll admit it now -- the dumped girl was me. Several months later, I still felt anger at the others, almost feeling left behind. What did I do? Did I do something wrong? What happened? Like the young girl I really was, I fell to self-contempt and aggression towards the others.

I really was in quite a pickle.

The four of us stayed in touch, though almost out of obligation. Whether it was through guilt, obsession, or circumstance, the four of us stuck around. We would all love to say it was because we still cared about each other, but I’m sure each of us had our own ideas as to why we stayed together. The saddest part was that the four of us never got together at the same time ever again.
Then after many months, somebody had the urge to change that. I’m going to wave my arms now ridiculously, and tell you straight up that it was me. K had been considering it a lot lately, but was too afraid to set it up. W never spoke about it, but showed interest when I brought it up. J was indifferent, but didn’t mind the idea.
I made the phone calls, and for the first time, we were together again. It was officially one of the sweetest moments I’ve had in my life. We hung out at our old school, revisiting old hang-out spots, seeing old friends (it was homecoming). We talked about some of the most mediocre topics, laughed at some of the most ridiculous things… and somehow, there was a sense of completion.
There is only one picture of us, and it was taken on this day. After about three years of friendship, there is only one picture. It is my background on my computer, and I will frame it with the best frame I can find at Wal-Mart, as soon as I can afford it. I look at it now, and I can’t help but realize something.
I hate them.
But I adore them, and I adore every memory I have with them. Not including the B-movie horror flick that is my family life, never have I loved and hated people before in my life. They have been both the bees in my bum and the candy scents I spray myself with everyday. I have sour, disgusting memories, and I have sweet, tender memories.

They are the pickles and chocolate in my life so far. Not pickle juice-drenched chocolate or chocolate-covered pickles. Pickles and Chocolate. As I think of them, for however long I care to remember them, I’ll complain about the bad times. I’ll complain at who did this, who said that, who typed what in that one Instant Message session. But I’m going to remember how delicious it was, and how much I smiled when things felt right.

I’ve always had a bigger sweet tooth, anyway.

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