When I was young, I loved to drop a few spoonfuls of Nestle Quick into a glass of milk, stir, and sip. Buoyant pods of powdered chocolate inevitably remained intact, bobbing to the surface, swirling in the milky whirlpool created from my steady stirring.As I lifted the glass to sip, I would lower and raise the glass, swishing the milk backwards and forwards, trying to coax those cocoa-pods front and center so I could suck them in and with my tongue, press them against the roof of my mouth, releasing a burst of cocoa-flavored sweetness that would dissolve into that swishy sip of milk.
In winter, I did the same with hot cocoa mix. I’d heat water in the kettle, spoon cocoa mix into the mug, and then stir, keeping an eye open for the unmixed cocoa blobs. When mixing chocolate milk, I could easily see the dark against white; in a mug, I found it harder to spot unmixed cocoa under the creamy film that formed at the water’s surface. No matter; I’d trust my tongue to feel for them. I loved the sugary sensation as the cocoa separated into granules and dissolved in my mouth.
One cool afternoon I pulled out one of my favorite black mugs, poured in a packet of hot cocoa mix and waited for the water to boil. I pulled out a spoon and spun it between my fingers, waiting. As soon as the kettle burbled, I lifted and poured. Absently, I stirred and watched it blend, anticipating my ritual of hunting down undissolved pockets of cocoa floating to the surface.
Leaning against the kitchen counter, I lifted the mug to my lips, blowing a little to cool the surface, and began sipping. Several sips in, I spotted a blob and sloshed the liquid, working that tempting pod front and center, to suck in and press against the roof of my mouth.
As soon as it was within sipping distance, I tilted the mug, drank it in, and with my tongue pressed up. But it didn’t give when it hit the roof of my mouth. It didn’t dissolve into a hundred granules of sugar. It was…hairy.
I rushed to the sink and spat.
A dead fly.
I dumped the contents of the mug into the sink, pushed the faucet and scooped water into my mouth with my hands as fast as possible to rinse, and rinse, and rinse, and rinse. As I rinsed, I had to stare down into the sink where the fly rested against the stainless steel drain basket strainer, the stream of water rinsing specks of cocoa from his lifeless black form.
I started to cry.
To this day, I can still recall the unexpected sensation of hair…legs…wings.
To this day, I always press the curve of my spoon against every pocket of unmixed cocoa, running it against the side of the glass or mug, to ensure that it bursts and blends with the liquid.
To this day, I avoid dark mugs. But if I don’t have a choice, I always peer in, turn the mug upside down, and shake.