I whole-heartedly empathize with Ulysses, intimately identify with the enormity of his pain as he struggled to turn a deaf ear to the tempting songs of the sirens. This, believe it or not, is my daily struggle. Mid-mornings, after occupying my usual chair, tucked in a corner of the living room, laptop resting on my thighs, an obligatory cup of green tea by my side, I draw a deep breath and tell myself that Ulysses had it easy. He was bound to the mast, his ears plugged with wax, his people under strict orders not to free him, no matter how hard and long he begged them to, which he did. I, on the other hand, am alone, free to get up and take the fourteen short steps that lead to my kitchen, from where a delicious mouth-watering symphony snakes my way to imbue my every cell with shameless greed. The heavenly music emanates from a box of chocolates I've concealed way back on the upper shelf of the kitchen cupboard behind jars of coffee and cereal cartons. As if I cannot, or have not on numerous occasions, dragged a stepstool into the kitchen, climbed the two short steps, pushed the jars and cartons back and got my hands on "The Box." As if I did not go back to my working chair, cuddling the chocolate to warm it like a lover's hand in mine, until ready to be unwrapped from its golden wrapper and dropped whole into my mouth. Ah! The guilty joy of crunching into the outer wafer, dipping into the melting chocolate layer, exploring the hazelnut in the core, and marveling anew at the symphonic power of my tempting siren. If taste buds could be plugged with wax, I would have done so, believe me. I would have wholeheartedly tied myself to my chair, too, since I not only know enough about the destructive effects of sugar on my body, but the havoc chocolate can wreck on my rosacea-prone cheeks.
What did help me, at least for a few months, was a healthy dose of vanity, coupled with sheer willpower. I gave the boxes of chocolate away, ran for life in supermarket isles stocked with colorfully wrapped chocolates that tempted me with their sweet symphony. After a few weeks, I slept better at night and the angry rosaceaus-splash (a coined word of mine) on my cheeks was transformed into a healthy rose petal blush. Until! Until my birthday loomed ominously! These dates have a way of creeping unbidden to spring on you out of some dark recesses of your mind. Yikes! I won't tell you how old I am, what I'll say, though, is that any sane doctor with a compassionate heart would willingly prescribe a healthy dose of chocolate endorphins as a therapeutic necessity to a woman of my age. Particularly a novelist who, for the record, has warned her characters, more than once, to never trust a woman who doesn't like chocolate.