When I was a little girl, I had a problem with nosebleeds. It wasn’t enough that I already socially maimed, being weird and half-feral and creepily thin and of a kind of fish flavored superimmigrant stock that even being born here had no effect on, I also had to profusely bleed from my nose without warning or reason, bloodying polyester hand-me-downs and dresses my mom made and orange berets that made me look like a little decorative pumpkin and buster brown shoes and small desk/chair combinations and jungle gyms and brown paper bag covered school books and even other children(!).
Now I realize it was because even then my sinuses were dry and worn out and inflamed from the monstrous amount of dust I would breathe in at the constantly under construction site of my ancestral home, but doctors in the 70s didn’t really think about the dangers of dust, and we had limited money for office visits and preventive medication. It wouldn’t be until I was well into my adulthood that I would discover neti pots and the sinu-pulse and inhalers and nasal steroids and blessed loratadine and develop a passionate love-hate relationship with prednisone.
So for most of my formative years, I just bled out of my fucking face. I could tell when it was starting, the copper penny itchy trickle that would start down the back of my throat first. I could taste it and I could smell it and I knew it was happening again and I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I would optimistically try to just tilt my head back and allow the blood to just flow uninterrupted down my throat, and if I looked in the mirror I could see the back of my mouth fill with red, my tongue brown from the saliva mixing with it. my vision was good enough then that I could see clots develop and slip thickly down into my gullet, and I swallowed them anxiously, not wanting anyone to have witnessed yet again my bloody wet masses of elementary school paper towels, which had a texture so rough that if you blew your nose on them, they would take your whole face off with it.
There was also the option of putting cotton balls up your nose too, but these were as useless as slim regular tampons, as I would come to find as a teenager. I bleed out of my body hard, whatever hole it happens to be. Maybe because I am more alive than everyone else.
My mother wept about it and teachers were concerned but not all that concerned because back then bodily fluids weren’t as atomically taboo as they are now and so it was less of a biohazard and more of a bio-hassle and finally the doctor said that it was due to chocolate, which was odd because as a child I barely consumed it, yet the restriction from what would become my favorite food of all sealed my devotion to it. how could the delicious extract from a glorious bean, mixed with milk and sugar and nuts and caramels and toffees and whatever other fantastic substance wreak such havoc on my nostrils? It seemed impossible and terrible and when I was first told I was forbidden to eat chocolate I couldn’t believe it.
I’d stand outside of a candy shop about a block from school on the other side of an ominous intersection where an older girl from my school had been killed in a car accident. It was an unguarded crosswalk with no stoplight and poor visibility with bushes on the street that were exactly a 10 year old girl’s height and so it was a very real death trap for underage pedestrians. Still, I would make that perilous journey at least once a day so I could look at the ever-changing seasonal variety of chocolates. In spring there would be valentines, huge heart shaped boxes filled with luscious assortments for new and old lovers and the forgotten lonely who I suspected would have the plush velvety organs mailed to themselves, and then fat foil covered eggs and hollow bunnies for easter. in winter there would be chocolate logs or yuletide logs and chocolate coated gingerbread men. I would stare at the forbidden sweets in the window, leering at the candies through the glass wishing I could talk to the chocolates on a phone, like I was long overdue for a conjugal visit yet had no luck with the appeals process.
The white chocolates my mother bought me as a kind of apologia were unimpressive. There was nothing to them. I felt no passion for the vapid buttery sugar. it was lifeless and drab and meaningless to me. it wasn’t chocolate as far as I was concerned. It didn’t fill my wanting mouth with deep pleasure and satiety. The sweetness was empty and bland, barely warranting the title of ‘chocolate’ at all in its moniker. I still think white chocolate is bullshit, although I now acknowledge that it can have its (sparse) merits, especially if combined with some sort of truffle, or used in a sauce, but in general, I am still married to the hard stuff, dark chocolate, with a cocoa content of over 85% – yeah I am hardcore.
Taking away the chocolate as a child didn’t cure me of my nosebleeds, which eventually faded as I got older and changed schools and started to have friends and bad grades, but it did make me addicted to the stuff, and I recently procured a bar of 99% – a Lindt rarity, with almost no sugar cut with it, virtually unstepped on, like hard white or china white or ice or that kind of smoke-able crystal meth that makes people go crazy and lose their teeth. The 99% tasted exactly like the beginning of the nosebleeds of my youth. Go figure.