Thursday, July 11, 2013

Scene from a A Movie In Which Bette Davis Depicts My Steamy, Stormy Relationship with Chocolate Nut Butters

In the role of me: Bette Davis.

I held my opera-length cigarette holder by its tail end and rolled my ash into a point against the jade tray on the coffee table. "It's been riveting, darling. Really, it has. But it's over."

In the role of Nutella: Humphrey Bogart. Or, with an appropriate change in dialogue, Charles Boyer or Paul Henreid. In the second case, replace the word "sweetheart" with "ma petite choufleur." 

He glowered at me from his perch in my kitchen cabinet, the wholesome glass of milk and sunny yellow flower on his label suddenly comic in their pathos and absurdity. "Over, huh?" he said. The diffident sneer in his voice clashed with the icy-cold anger in his face. "Why?"

I turned and strode dramatically to the opposite side of the kitchen; my floor-length cocktail dress rustled stiffly with my movements. "Let's not beat around the bread slice. I've outgrown you, sweetcheeks. Oh, sure-- back when I was young and inexperienced...well, you gave me shivers. I first met you on a grocery store croissant in high school French class, remember that? Wide-eyed innocent that I was, I immediately fell for you: you with your aura of European sophistication and vague healthfulness. PS-- what were you doing in French class? You're from Italy."

"I asked you a question, dollface, and it wasn't a geography question. Why don't you cut the trip down memory lane the and get to the point?"

21 grams of sugar per two-tablespoon serving? Why not just sprinkle some Pixie Stix on a slice of toast and call that a balanced breakfast?

I knocked back a conveniently placed martini. "Even after I got to know you better-- you know, right around the time when I realized that your first ingredient is sugar and your second is palm oil-- even then I stuck by you. But it was never the same."

"So why'd you stay?"

"Well, I have to give you credit, darling. You may not have been as elegant or as pure as I originally thought, but you were still a lot of fun. You knew how to turn a leftover dinner roll into a good time. Besides, the market was in your favor. There just weren't a lot of other chocolate hazelnut butters out there."

Somewhere in the back of his eyes, a light bulb went off. He settled back with a cynical smile. "Oh, I see," he said. "You wanted an upgrade. Out with the old, in with the new. Am I warm, sister?"

I held my chin up in an unflinching profile. "Yes, Nutella. There's someone else."

Hey there, handsome. Where have you been all my life?

"Don't tell me," said Nutella. "Not that pretentious, eight-bucks-a-pop shortstuff."

In a whirl of theatrical fury I wheeled around. My softly curled hair flounced against my back. "You're a fine one to talk about pretension," I said. "And I won't have Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Blend slandered that way in my presence."

"All right, sweetheart. Floor me. What's he got that I ain't got?"

"Depth, for one thing. Yes, depth-- and integrity. First ingredient on the list? Hazelnuts. Second? Almonds."

"You don't like almond butter."

"Stop changing the subject!" I threw my martini glass across the room; Nutella ducked, and the glass shattered against the wall. "Sorry, I got carried away. Where was I? At first I wasn't sure about his flavor-- so dark, so, so, nutty-- but once I got used to it, I saw the appeal. Compared to Justin's, your sweetness seems cloying, your one-note flavor flat and only superficially exciting. Besides, is it such a novel idea-- a hazelnut butter in which you can actually taste the hazelnuts?"

He struck a match and lit his cigarette. "So if you're Justin's girl now," he said, putting the match out with two shakes of his big right hand, "why did Johnny No-Neck see you yesterday with your mouth all over a grilled banana and honey sandwich slathered up with Peanut Butter & Company Dark Chocolate Dreams?"

In the role of chocolate peanut butter: Jimmy Stewart all the way.

My heavily-made-up eyes fluttered upward in a glance of shrewd sexuality. "Well, I never said we had an exclusive relationship. Justin's is upwards of fifty cents an ounce, after all. Besides. I like Dark Chocolate Dreams. To tell you the bitter truth, I think I like him better than any of you. Yes, I prefer peanut butter to hazelnut butter, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Plus he's not going to break my bank like Justin's might."

"So you really think it's over between us. Sayonara strawberries, au revoir mes croissants, auf wiedersehen sneaky little spoonfuls from the jar."

"Over. Done. Finito. Never again."

Smoke wafted from his parted lips. "Never is a long time, babyface."

I fixed him with a burning stare. "What are you insinuating?"

He started to walk toward me. "Only that you can't quit me. Oh, sure-- you might stay away for a year, two years. Maybe even five. But forever? You'll be back. It'll take time. But you'll be back."

By this time he was right in front of me, so close I had to throw my head back in a very dramatic and cinematically attractive pose to see his face. He pressed something into my grip: a spoon. "So howzabout it, sweetie? For old times' sake?"

My wine-red lips curved in a sly smile. "I'm not that food-label-illiterate girl in a plaid skirt anymore, honeybunch," I said. "You can't fool me. I know you for what you are: chocolate frosting in a Party City beret."

"And that doesn't appeal to you?"

"You're incorrigible."

"You don't know the half of it," he said, and the lights dimmed.

In the role of Johnny No-Neck: Claude Rains.

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