#scintilla13: near-death by chocolate


I’m a cofounder of The Scintilla Project, along with my friends Onyi and Dominique, two whip-smart and artfully snarky women with beautiful hair. This is my response to one of the Day 2 prompts, Tell  the story about something interesting (anything!) that happened to you,  but tell it in the form of an instruction manual (Step 1, Step 2, Step  3….) We believe that your stories make you who you are and we’re asking you to share yours. Interested? Sign up at scintillaproject.com and follow us at @ScintillaHQ.

Step 1. Engage in heated argument with boyfriend, the kind you have been having often enough lately to make you think this is going to have to end soon. Repeat as needed until boyfriend leaves house in petulant, unmasculine huff.

Step 2. Upon boyfriend’s return, he presents you with a large tray of Brownies. He has procured them from a fellow musician, and they are, by all accounts, Exceptional Brownies of the First Water. Argument is considered resolved by boyfriend; feel free to accept Brownie gift and simultaneously retain lingering rage.

Step 3. Engage in trial run of Brownie: Consume one serving (serving size: 1.5 inch, square) in university parking lot while listening to NPR, attend one class in Romantic Poets and another in Chaucer, consume one five-pack deep-fried pierogies, acknowledge streaky orange sunset on drive back to apartment, again while listening to NPR. If Brownie meets with approval (status: gnarly or better), proceed to Step 4.

Step 4. Generously give one serving of Brownie to friend A on empty stomach. Win lifelong loyalty of friend A, and also one pack Salem Slim Lights when she leaves them behind in Brownie-induced haze.

Step 5. Stare out window at trees/feral cats while contemplating Relative Potency Quotient per square inch of Brownie. Abandon said mathematics.

Step 6. Announce to friend B (also known as Friend from Home) that you will be visiting your parents that very weekend and that she should leave room for dessert.

Step 7. Remove four servings of Brownie from pan. Make that six servings. Determine that generosity is the soul of life and that sharing of Brownie will surely ensconce you in God’s good graces.

Step 8. Wrap servings in plastic wrap.

Step 9. Wrap plastic-wrapped servings in aluminum foil.

Step 10. Wrap foil-wrapped plastic-wrapped servings in more plastic wrap.

Step 11. Wrap plastic-wrapped foil-wrapped plastic-wrapped servings in sweatshirt. In the interest of brevity, this package will now be referred to as Bundle.

Step 12. Pack overnight bag, centering Bundle in the geometric center, surrounded by sweatshirt, atop shoes and toiletry kit, and below pajamas.

Step 13. Drive 3.75 hours toward childhood home, paying close attention to speed limits, speed traps, and every parking lot whereby a suspicious policeman might be lurking. Try to think “Peace Frog”; succeed only in thinking “Smuggler’s Blues”.

Step 14. Arrive at childhood home. Bring overnight bag into house and hide it near pool table in basement. Walk upstairs, pay attention to family, and attempt to stop thinking about Bundle.

Step 15. After approximately two hours have elapsed, leave family togetherness time and escape to basement. Examine overnight bag. Discover that it has been opened, that Bundle has been dismantled, and that shreds of plastic wrap, foil, and Brownie are scattered around and throughout overnight bag.

Step 16. Look at rafters, plan own funeral. Wonder which of the two family dogs has eaten six servings of Brownie.

Step 17. Shriek, startled, as youngest brother races down the cellar stairs, shouting “Dolly’s sick!”, and then races away again. This answers lingering question from Step 16.

Step 18. Walk upstairs to see small wire-haired terrier (the aforementioned Dolly) walk into a wall and bounce back onto tush. Remain silent as your mother takes the dog to after-hours emergency clinic forty miles away.

Step 19. Berate self. Repeat. Also bewail the large dollar value of Brownie wasted on animal who cannot possibly appreciate its gnarly-or-better status. Prewrite eulogy as you would like it to be delivered by Friend B.

Step 20. (Elapsed time: 3+ hours) Race to door when family car pulls into driveway. Dolly will remain at vet for observation. Doctors seem mystified by her condition, which they cannot explain; the only untoward result in blood test is high quantity of cholesterol. Youngest brother remains distraught.

Step 21. Ask mother if she will accompany you to basement. Show her remains of Bundle. “I know dogs aren’t supposed to have chocolate,” you finish lamely. “NO,” your mother replies. “Dogs are not supposed to have ANYTHING that is in Brownie.” She assigns you two chores: Clean up Bundle detritus and Think About What You Have Done.

Step 22. Solution! In case veterinarians realize that dog has eaten six servings of Brownie, mother will tell them that you had left dog with Family Friend of Loose Morals, apologize, and beg not to inform police (animal cruelty, Brownie possession).

Step 23. Interlude: Night of panic. Will high cholesterol kill small wire-haired terrier? Internet still basically consists of AOL and wild, unnavigable Usenet; answer eludes you. Try to think “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow”; succeed only in thinking “Folsom Prison Blues.”

Step 24. Emergency vet calls in morning; small wire-haired terrier is cleared to come home. No explanation for her illness; stroke, possibly, or heart disease? Mother agrees to take dog for a check-up with her regular vet.

Step 25. Spend rest of visit with family despondent due to lack of Brownie, looking deeply into eyes of small wire-haired terrier, wondering what Brownie(s) must have been like for her. Avoid mother’s patented Death-Ray Stare where possible.