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A Hollow Discussion

“How do you eat a chocolate bunny?”

Sounds like a riddle, but it’s a legitimate question, posed to us by a radio personality as we found ourselves midway between Points A and B Saturday. (I use the term “radio personality” because in my mind, “DJ” doesn’t represent the watered-down version of how most music is presented, promoted or played on the radio these days. And if you were questioning the rate at which I’m aging, just read that statement again … good grief.)

If you’ve ever received an Easter basket, you know what I’m talking about: the large, hollow chunk of chocolate, often wrapped in foil, and molded into the shape of a rabbit. Like jellybeans, colored eggs and the comically green fake grass comprised of materials I’m sure have been determined harmful on some level, it’s an Easter basket staple.

Anyway, as we drove and listened, the “DJ” teased the following question: “What is the proper way to eat a chocolate bunny? We’ll tell you after these messages.” As someone with only a few – albeit strict – food eating rules, you might be surprised that I had no opinion on the matter. What might surprise you even more is that my lack of opinion stems from the fact that I don’t like – and have never liked – chocolate in that form (“that form” being large, hollow and bunny-shaped).

As a kid, I always turned my back on the chocolate bunny, opting instead for all the other goodies in the basket. To me, it was overkill, a false candy “idol” that so many worshipped for no good reason, doing nothing more than taking up valuable space, an “all-show, no-go” impostor, showing off its size and splendor only to disappoint by delivering much less product than advertised.

But I digress.

Minutes later, after listening to those with much more interest in the topic (and frankly, there’s no way one could have less interest, but I played along, knowing I’ve certainly participated in, led and curated countless inane conversations in my day – often with my best friend/cousin Mike -- about things even less important than this), it was determined that the correct method for eating a chocolate bunny was to start at the ears, a conclusion heartily – and surprisingly -- supported by Joan, whose reply went something like, “Only an animal would do it any other way.”

I’m not sure if that statement was ironic or if she knew something about nature that I missed in middle school science. (I didn’t ask.)

After a couple of songs played and we rode in relative silence, I chimed in. “You know, I’ve been thinking.” If you’ve ever been in the audience when I utter those words, you know it rarely bodes well for you, especially if you’re an audience of one. Joan simply played along, knowing it’s easier to let me go until I tire myself out than to fight it.

“About what?” Her reply was flat and semi-interested. I was fine that with that and saw it as an open door.

“After boiling it down over the past few miles, I realize I’ve really had only three foods I have rules for.” Joan’s reply wasn’t in words, but rather, something I can only describe as a combination of a sigh, a grunt and the beginnings of a word that she held back at the last second. I stayed the course.

“Saltines, Pop-Tarts and ice cream sandwiches.”

“Wow, you have rules for those,” she replied, more to herself than to me, as if she were contemplating something (like exiting the car even though we were traveling at highway speeds). I was not deterred.

“Yeah, so with Saltines,” I launched in, knowing I only had a minute or two before I’d wear out my welcome, “I nibble them from one end to the other, but you already knew that.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen that firsthand.” Joan was playing along nicely, but when you have a captive audience, it’s hard to tell if you’re truly “killing it” or if they’re just placating you until it’s over. I hoped for the former, assumed the latter and continued.

“For Pop-Tarts – or Toast ‘Ems, which is often what we had when I was a kid, specifically cinnamon, with no icing – you need to nibble the crust around the perimeter before biting into the middle.”

“OK, what’s the deal with ice cream sandwiches,” Joan responded, obviously fast-tracking the conversation so we could move onto something – anything – else.

“Oh, that’s easy,” I said excitedly. “After you unwrap it, you need to squeeze it super-gently, just enough so the ice cream starts to ooze out. Then, you lick the ice cream all the way around the sandwich. Then, and only then, can you eat the remainder.”

It was that last one – the ice cream sandwich – that interested her. “Do you have to wait for the ice cream to melt ... just a little bit?” she asked with slightly more interest than I’d noted in the past three minutes.

“What a great question!” I thought but held back my excitement, opting instead for a controlled, thoughtful response, knowing if I toned it down and didn’t get too far into the weeds with my answer, I could squeeze just a little more mileage – a little more “ice cream” – out of that conversation before ruining it.

Minutes later, it was all over, thanks to Joan’s willingness to play along, and the fact that she was driving, which makes it much more difficult to jump out of a moving car. And, I guess, it didn’t hurt that I lied just a little (for her sake) when I said I have only three food rules.

I really have about 50, but I’ll save the other 47 when we have a longer road trip ahead of us.

© 2021 David R. Haznaw

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