Nobody Likes the Chocolate Ones


Melanie is trying to enjoy some time alone with her boyfriend. There's just one problem. The candy dish is almost empty. Except for a few Tootsie Pops. Chocolate ones.

Even though he had been Melanie's boyfriend for a couple years now and a friend-friend several years before that, Billy didn't like to hang out at her house. She couldn't blame him. Her aunt rented out most of the rooms to make some extra money to support the two nieces she never really wanted. Melanie didn't like the tenants and it wasn't much of a surprise that none of her friends liked them either. However, today was a rarity.
Since all the tenants were out doing this and that, she didn't have to jockey for control of the TV in the living room. She didn't have cable or satellite--her aunt was too cheap for that--so there wasn't much on. Still, Billy was willing to spend time with her even when there wasn't much of anything to see or do. She couldn't complain.
The candy bowl on the coffee table was almost empty. All that was left was several Tootsie Pops, all the chocolate flavored kind. Picking one up, she eyed the brown wrapper in disappointment.
"I thought you hated the chocolate ones," Billy said.
"I do," Melanie replied, "but we can't get new candy for the bowl until it's empty."
"No one else likes 'em, right?"
"Yeah."
"Why don't you just throw 'em away?"
"I can't do that. It'd be wasteful."
"Nobody wants 'em. What's it going to hurt?"
"You don't understand. I can't just throw perfectly good food away."
"I wouldn't really consider Tootsie Pops to be perfectly good or food. Least not the chocolate ones."
Melanie shook her head vigorously. "No, no, no, no, no. Can't do it. Even if you tossed 'em in the trash, I'd have to dig 'em right out."
Billy rolled his eyes. It made Melanie a little uncomfortable. She didn't like to remind him that she was the poster child for OCD, but she always wound up doing it. She was afraid it'd eventually drive him away.
"I don't even see why they have chocolate flavored," she complained, trying to veer the conversation in a different direction. "I mean, there's already the Tootsie Roll center. There's your chocolate. You should be able to mix it up, you know? That's why you get the cherry, raspberry, strawberry, and grape that tastes like Dimetapp." She made a face.
"Hey," Billy interjected, "I like the way Dimetapp tastes. Mom use to give it to me and Johnny all the time right after Dad died. Put us out like a light."
"Worked just the opposite on me," Melanie said. "I got all hyper and drove everyone crazy. Old Mrs. Kerensky finally had to give me a shot of her vodka to konk me out before the other tenants threw me out of the house."
Billy gave her a look.
"You know, Mel, I always think I've had a jacked up childhood until I hear one of your stories."
Billy hadn't meant any harm and she knew it, but Melanie couldn't help feeling bad all over again. He couldn't help being insensitive every now and then. He was a guy, after all. Likewise, she couldn't help being oversensitive at times, one of the many joys of being a girl.
Even as she was thinking about Billy being insensitive, he showed the insight to redirect the conversation again. (He was better than most guys, she had to admit.)
"Chocolate and chocolate isn't necessarily a bad thing," he said. "What about Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate chocolate chip muffins or Oreos with the chocolate cream?"
"That's different," Melanie insisted. "You've got two good chocolates together. With the Tootsie Pops, you've got the okay chocolate of a Tootsie Roll and the nasty nasty über-gross 'chocolate' lollipop part."
"Point. So... why are you eating 'em again?"
Melanie sighed. "I already told you."
"That you're an obsessive-compulsive completionist with a hyperactive sense of frugality that rivals the Amish?"
She frowned. She didn't much like that. Not one little bit. Why'd he have to hit the nail right smack-dab on the head? She crossed her arms and looked away from him.
"Aw, come on, Mel," Billy said. "Don't pout."
A 'hmph' was all he got out of her. Did he really have to say something like that? Couldn't he read the atmosphere? However, the more she let herself get worked up over it, the more she began to wonder if she was overreacting.
When she thought about it, Billy had never once given her a single complaint about being the way she was. He'd even sit with all the patience of the Buddha while she picked off the little balls of fuzz from his socks. That had to count for something.
She was starting to feel guilty and was about to apologize for her behavior when Billy stopped her. He wagged a finger at her, a habit of his when he wanted to put some emphasis on whatever he was going to say.
"You think that I think that your reason for eating that chocolate Tootsie Pop is stupid. I'm about to show you something. You know what it is? An even stupider reason."
Without another word, he took one of the lollipops out of the candy bowl, peeled off the wrapper and stuck it in his mouth.
"I thought you hated the chocolate ones, too," Melanie said.
"I do," Billy replied. "Nobody likes the chocolate ones, but do you know why I'm doing this?"
Melanie shook her head.
"I'll tell you why. You see, I've got this crazy girlfriend who's got it stuck in her head that all these nasty chocolate Tootsie Pops have to get eaten and I just happen to be crazy enough for her that I'm going to help her out."
He gave her a wry grin and she knew he had just bulldozed through all her fretting like it was nothing. On the one hand, it kinda trivialized the whole thing, but on the other hand, it made her feel better about. It was one of those 'as good as it gets' scenarios and Melanie decided to accept it.
"Aww," she cooed, giving him a big hug, "you're so sweet."
"Yeah, yeah."
Even though Billy was putting on that aloof act of his, he still put an arm around her and drew her closer to him. They stayed like that for quite a while, holding each other as the TV played some lame excuse for entertainment.
"These things really suck," he said.
"Yeah, they do," she replied, unwrapping one and putting it in her mouth, "but thanks."