“I’m not grumpy, I’ve got chocolate in my teeth”
By Elena Gibbs
…was the Russian barista’s response to my question “having a good day?”
Prior to this exchange, I’d been feeling a little flat, and as I observed her firmly horizontal expression, mouth matching my mood, I thought to myself how we could all do with a little cheering up—and why not be the one to initiate the process?
What followed was an emotive account of how as a child in Russia, sweet things were rare and coveted. The only option was a teaspoon of cocoa mixed with sugar, serving as the most wonderful treat to those deprived taste buds.
“We didn’t have chocolate like we have now: Here, there, everywhere in abundance”—so what sufficed was this little tryst of chocolate and sweetener, taken on the sly from the cupboard. The packet would go down and down, her mother eventually noticing the reduction in amount.
“Why does it still taste so good?” she said. “I guess it takes me back to those childhood days, the rarity.
“When you’re deprived of something, the treat of it makes it more special, I think.
“Same with everything: clothes, cars, everything.”
Having one thing that you love dearly, no matter if there are worse or better options available, is important to treat with the highest value.
“Enjoy your coffee,” she said. “Please!” and smiled, no chocolate in sight.