One of my more impressive superpowers is my ability to resist the dark chocolate Dove Promises in the office candy dish.
Mind you, I can’t resist eating them, but I am very good at not obeying the commands printed on the insides of their wrappers.
You know, there was a time when you could count on the foil wrappers of chocolate candies to impart sound life advice.
I recall getting wonderful messages in the past, like “Savor the moment,” “Be fearless,” “Live life fully”—the kind of inspiring phrases that reminded you that your simple act of snacking on chocolate wasn’t just gluttony or lack of willpower. No. Every time you ate a piece of chocolate, you were carpe-ing the diem. You were taking life by the throat and demanding a moment of sweetness for yourself in even the bitterest of days. You were fearlessly asserting your own value, defying a culture that says there is an inverse relationship between your value as a human being and the circumference of your waist.
But something has gone horribly wrong with this new generation of Dove Promises.
Instead of empowering, TED talky tidbits of wisdom, last week I got “Stay up past your bedtime.”
Dove Promise, I thought to myself, it’s 10:00 in the morning on a rainy Tuesday, and I am tired. The thought of my bed evokes nothing but longing. If I could be home right now, I would be asleep–shamelessly and blissfully–before the bedtime of your average five-year-old.
I figured this message was just some aberration—a piece of advice clearly intended for a younger demographic. I tried again. “Get dressed up with no place to go.”
Oh, you mean like in a revealing dress made of delicate, uncomfortable, hard-to-maintain fabric? With suffocating Spanx and torture heels on too? Complete with a long, dull, painful hair and makeup procedure? So that I can try not to spill things on myself or mess up my manicure or breathe too deeply, while I sit stiffly at home or I guess…at the library…to ponder the dearth of galas on my social calendar and to get derisive looks from strangers? Sounds kind of less than ideal. I have witnessed gaggles of prommed-out teenagers at the local Applebee’s, who were dressed up–in fact–with someplace to go but who had landed temporarily in the virtual ‘no place’ that is Applebee’s, and it was an uncomfortable experience for everyone within a 100-yard blast radius of shame.
Befuddled with these commands, I decided to give up on inspirational chocolate. But sure enough, 3:00 rolled around with a slump in energy and spirit, so I again turned to the Dove oracle for a boost of sugar, cocoa, and wisdom.
“Sing out loud,” the chocolate demanded.
After all the time we’ve spent together, do you even know me, Dove?! Even if I didn’t sound like a howler monkey who just found a tarantula in her last banana when I sing, nobody ever wants to listen to anybody singing while they are at work. It is a universal law of office etiquette, right below the one about shirts and shoes being required. No singing out loud in the office. Ever.
I gave the Promises one more try, but only because they are so very delicious, only to be rewarded with this order: “Get messy.”
My life is messy enough. I really need no encouraging there, Dove, but thanks for the reminder of the dust bunnies waiting under the furniture for me when I get home. Besides, isn’t this at cross purposes with that whole getting dressed up thing? Or is the real advice here: “Spend a lot of time and money at the dry cleaner after all this needless dressing up and making of messes”?
That’s when it hit me: the person writing these new Dove Promise wrappers is like that one Bad Influence friend you had back in the day.
You know, the one who never failed to have a terrible, legally questionable idea and to try to get you to wander down some path that seemed like all fun and games but that you knew (possibly from bitter experience) would lead only to a pit of doom, destruction, and ill repute out of which you might never be able to crawl.
It wasn’t easy and it’s not something everyone can do, but winner that I am, I said no to that tempting devil.
I drove home from work and resisted the urge to sing out loud, even when my favorite song came on and even though I was in the safety of my sealed-up car. It’s not soundproof. I could pull up at a red light and some poor unsuspecting soul might hear that shit and be scarred for life.
As soon as I got home, I changed into the softest, undressiest PJs I have and washed the makeup off my face. After dinner, I cleaned up the day’s mess, and I went to bed at 10:00, long before my normal bedtime. And you know what? It was amazing.
I regret nothing, Dove Promises, so take your horrible advice elsewhere.
I’ll admit it: I’m more of a follower than a leader, but even I can only be pushed so far. Sometimes you just have to stand up for yourself, as persuasive as those bossy red foil wrappers can be, and do what’s right for you, regardless of what your chocolate is telling you to do.
So if you’ve ever felt like it was impossible to resist chocolate,* I’m living proof that it is not.
*I have no personal experience with this, but it might even be possible to resist eating chocolate, if you happen to be one of those people whose lives have seen so little privation, suffering, and chocolatelessness that you feel you need more of these elements in your daily existence. If so, more power to you, my ascetic friend, and if you have some chocolate in your cupboard you need to get rid of, you know where to find me. Rest assured any chocolate you bestow upon me will be consumed but not obeyed.