A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Power of Chocolate

Library Advisory Board meeting today. Anna had sent an email reminder, mostly so she could casually mention that she was writing from Hawaii. In it she urged everyone to attend, and promised to bring chocolate-covered macadamia nuts to the meeting.

And it worked. Whereas I had missed the January meeting because I had completely forgotten about it, the mention of candy served to lodge the February date and time in my mind. When I got there, although I wasn't even hungry, I had a chocolate-covered nut. I felt almost a compulsion to eat one after having linked meeting and candy so fimly in my consciousness.

My daughter had an obnoxious little friend in public school who taught me the lure of food. Stephanie was the stereotypical spoiled rich kid who bought her popularity, the princess with the retinue of followers. Before Stephanie moved to the neighborhood, kids got on the schoolbus in the order they had arrived at the bus stop. After Stephanie, kids got on the bus in the order Stephanie assigned them. WTF?

Stephanie passed out candy bars liberally on the bus, in the cafeteria, on the playground. She had birthday parties to which every kid in the class was invited, with bulging goody bags for all. She distributed brownies every time she gave an oral report, added a plateful to every science project, made them part of her various political campaigns. She never made any attempt to tie brownies into the subject at hand, just shamelessly supplied them. And she unfailingly got high grades, votes, gold stars. Everyone, including the principal, fell hook, line, and sinker for the brownie ploy.

I never forgot Stephanie and her brownies. In the countless organizations I've been involved in since my daughter was in the fourth grade, I've used her technique, always with good results. Whenever other people complain to me about a club that needs to be jumpstarted, I always offer the same advice. Never underestimate the power of chocolate.

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