Everyone has little nuances that make them individualistic, different from the masses. We all have funny little habits we cannot help doing that set us apart from every one else. I have learned from living in dorm rooms in hostels for the better part of ten months that I don’t like it if I know people can see me sleeping. I will go to great lengths to ensure I have a bottom bunk bed where I can tuck a sarong under the mattress of the top bunk so that I sleep like a undisturbed and hidden bear in her den. If I can’t sleep within my little cubbyhole, I sleep facing the wall with a shirt over my face. When I stand up after sitting for a long periods of time I do this weird hip swivel move to crack my lower back. It must be done. I cannot walk like a normal person if I don’t crack my back. And if the hip swivel move doesn’t work I walk lifting my knees high up into the air moving them towards my epicenter until my back cracks. However, probably the strangest little nuance that I have no choice but to participate in is that I sneeze every time I eat chocolate. As soon as I bite into an authentic, delicious, dark chocolate piece of godliness, I can feel the inside of my nose starting to tingle. All my little nose hairs start quivering in anticipation of the storm about to blow through their canal. This is followed by one or several sneezes. This started happening to me maybe about fifteen years ago. It’s the strangest phenomenon. People would always tell me, “Oh, well you’re probably allergic.” But the thing is, wouldn’t I get sick in some way if I was allergic? Because I’ve never gotten sick from eating chocolate (another fact: the only food I’ve ever gotten sick from eating is tofu. Twice. And for this I will never eat that flavorless white cube of vomit inducing soy ever again).
I thought I was weird…or special. But I also thought I was special when Costa Ricans refer to me as, “mi amor,” or Chileans and Argentinians refer to me as, “corazón.” I thought, “Wow! These people really like me!” Until I had the realization that these are names that all their fellow countrymen use and mean nothing as far as a term of endearment. Or, as my Argentinian friend, Rulo, told me, in between a fit of contagious giggles, “We call women corazón because we can’t remember what their names are.” Even the border patrol agent, on the Panama-Costa Rica border called me “mi amor” once. Can you imagine crossing from Canada back into the states and the border patrol person calling you “my love?” Are you imagining it? Impossible, right?
But you know what? I’m not here to talk to you about palabras en español (words in Spanish). No, my love, I am here to talk to you about chocolate and why I sneeze every time I eat it. I took a tour of a cacao farm when I was still living in Puerto Viejo and Paul, the owner and tour guide, mentioned that there is a percentage of people in the world where chocolate induces sneezing and it’s not an allergy. I was astounded! There are other people in the world just like me who experience this strange phenomenon? I immediately conjured up a Chocolate Sneezing Convention in my mind. Oh my gosh, I could organize an entire weekend event with people who have just as strange a reaction as I do. We could sit around in a banquet hall in a hotel and eat chocolate and sneeze together.
|A cacao bean is purple on the inside, chock full of anti-oxidants.|
After that cacao tour, I went online to do a little research in the chocolate sneezing realm. I found this really interesting article from The Atlantic called,“For Some Chocoholics, an “Orgasm of the Face. Apparently, chocolate is a stimulant that produces an orgasm of your face or a “photic sneeze reflex.” This happens to some people when they see bright lights but when you eat chocolate (and I’m talking real chocolate, not that Hershey’s crap) your photic, which I have now learned means “visual,” senses mingle, much like you do at a cocktail party, with the nerve sensations in your face thus producing a sneeze.
Normally, this is all well and good, however, sometimes when one sneezes it can be so forceful that it causes you to pass gas as well. Unfortunately, this happened to me when I went on a date many months ago when I was living in Tulum. We had split a brownie for dessert and of course, I sneezed and simultaneously, very unexpectedly, farted. Thankfully he laughed, almost for too long, but I sat in an embarrassed stupor for the rest of dessert simply because he was a suave Italian and Italians are so refined with their stain-free white linen pants, perfectly coiffed hair, secure in the knowledge that they know what real gelato is. They are the only brand of men that can wear a man-purse, or as I like to refer to it as a “murse,” and look genuinely manly while doing so.
But I digress. I don’t mind the orgasms of my face so long as they don’t continue to produce other bodily effects that make me look that much less feminine in front of handsome foreign men.
|The innards of cacao|