In honor of this upcoming weekend, I thought I’d write a little story about one of the traditions we used to have for Mother’s day, and something I, as a guy, learned about both women and chocolate.

As a guy, learning about either of these two things, and the interaction between them, can be both a stunning and humbling, if not totally baffling experience.

See, it seems like chocolate affects men a whole lot differently than it does women.  Me? I can take it or leave it.  Now I’ve talked to friends who happen to be female about this whole thing – and the word chocolate is uttered with a reverence a guy might have for – oh, say, the remote… or beer… or both… I don’t  know – all I know is that chocolate holds a place near and dear to every woman’s heart that I know, and none of the men I know really grasp the concept of how important, how heavenly, how earth shatteringly WONDERFUL chocolate can be to the women I’ve talked to.

As is often the case, it’s so much easier to illustrate than to explain, and of course, that takes us into tonight’s story, about Mother’s day, Chocolate, and a gender gap the size of the grand canyon.

We used to go down to Cannon Beach, in Oregon, and stay there for Mother’s Day weekend at a house right on the beach.  It was a neat place, and there were at least 4 bedrooms upstairs, and I think 23 couches and a ping pong table downstairs in a room just a touch smaller than the footprint of the house.

One of the things do aside from walking the beach and going out to Haystack Rock was try to have some fun stuff to eat while down there – and since there was a kitchen in the place, we’d bring food or get some locally to make while we were there.

One year my sister decided that something called Raclette, kind of like fondue – but she had it in her mind that instead of cheese, we’d do it with chocolate instead.  So a bunch of chocolate was melted, and plates of all kinds of things, especially fruit were brought out – and we – well, the guys of us, that’d be my dad, my son, and my brother-in-law and me  – didn’t quite get the whole concept of dipping perfectly good fruit into hot, gooey chocolate, but that seemed to be the thing to do.

So we did.

And I learned something about chocolate that evening.

It turns out that it affects men and women differently.

Those of us with a Y chromosome didn’t quite understand what the fuss was all about with the chocolate, and kind of half-heartedly put our little dishes up onto the grill to melt the chocolate, and then dipped our fruit into it after it was melted.

And I’d have to say, it was okay, but it just didn’t seem like “two great tastes that go great together” – and if we ate much of it at all, we’d eat the fruit, then maybe the chocolate, and pretty much forego the melting part altogether.

But it’s what the chocolate did to us (and I’m speaking of us as in guys) that was so different.  See, by the time we’d gotten to the point where we realized that waiting for the chocolate to melt for the second go around, all the sugar had overloaded our systems, and to a man (and boy) we were slowing down.

In the meantime, as if through a tunnel, we were hearing the women (that’d be, in chronological order, my mom, my wife, my sister, and daughter) laughing and chatting and just having a really good time…

Pretty soon it was clear that staying at the table was going to be a challenge – this was more sugar and/or chocolate than any of us guys had had in a long time.

We were fading, and fading fast.

Meanwhile, on the double X chromosome side of the table, the partying was going on with wild abandon.  Jokes were being told, laughter was clearly the order of the day, and chocolate flowed like – well – um….. Melted chocolate.

The XY members of the group drifted to the living room area, because – well, it was quieter, and tiredness was descending on us like a down comforter.

Meanwhile, at Party Central, those left at the table were now being regaled with stories that brought howls of laughter the likes of which I’d never heard.

For “the guys” – it turned out the living room, which we’d gone to to escape the noise, was still too loud. The call of the down comforter was too strong, and trying to keep our eyes open was a battle that simply could not be won.

The guys, The “Team of XY” all faded off to bed, with a mumbled “Thanks for the nice dinner” as we each shuffled to the bedrooms, resigned to lose not just the battle, but the war.

I put my son to bed, and heard the laughter still ringing in my ears, the sound of three generations of laughter and merriment in the distant background.

And suddenly – it stopped – as they noticed we were all gone.

I couldn’t help it. I could barely keep my eyes open.  In those few moments, my son was already deeply asleep.  I’d just managed to crawl into bed myself before falling there, but the last words I heard before succumbing to the arms of Morpheus, and I don’t remember who said them, were, “Now isn’t it just like those men, leaving us to do the dishes!”


Just like those men.

But I blame the chocolate.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there, no matter which chromosomes you’ve got.