Did I ever tell you the story of the chocolate covered olives?
It all starts at a wedding in Georgia. Outside Georgia, technically speaking — strip mall land, where every street is named “Peachtree Something.” Somewhere in the hills behind this maze of interlinked parking lots there’s a lovely little manor house from before the Civil War.
The economy it was built on collapsed in about 1865, so the manor house is now a rental hall. All the nice rugs and furniture are still there, museum-like, though some of them are behind elegant velvet ropes to keep you from accidentally using an antebellum chair as, say, an actual chair.
O Best Beloved and I wandered the buffet feeling like the out-of-place Yankees that we were. The crowd was mostly white Southern relatives and friends of the bride, the extremely-deferential and all-black serving staff made us feel a little odd, and you couldn’t get anything but soda at the bar, which certainly put me in a bind. Having a black eye from a fight with one of the groom’s party the night before didn’t help any either.
Adrift and awkward, I eventually found my way to the chocolate fountain to drown my sorrows. A pack of strangers wandered up. I nodded cordially, they warily; their children not at all as they ignored all the grown-ups and rushed for the chocolate. Feeling daring and more than a little perverse, I picked up a nearby olive — also skewered helpfully on a toothpick, just like the strawberries and little pastries by the chocolate fountain — and dipped it casually into the molten flow.
“It’s a big fad right now,” I said, conversationally. “Sort of like caramel corn and cheese corn all in the same bag, you know? Salty and sweet all at once.”
I twirled the toothpick, eying my olive, the very picture of a man making sure his gourmet treat is properly executed.
Some of the children doubted. “That’s gross!” one pointed out.
“But you don’t like olives,” her mother noted. She watched me curiously.
“It’s really a hot new thing,” I assured them. “I think the New York Times had a thing about it. Maybe it was the Wall Street Journal.“
The blow found a chink in the armor. “Oh, yeah,” her husband agreed, nodding in the casually disinterested way of one intellectual to another. “Now that you say it, I think I read that too.”
And he picked up an olive and dipped it.
We chatted for a bit and I wished them well after they’d all had their chocolate-covered olives and commented that they weren’t too bad (except for the older boy, the only child to try one, who rightfully pronounced them “disgusting”). They went their way and I went mine, leaving a chocolate-dipped olive discreetly tucked away with some other food detritus on one of the little standing tables. I always wondered, later, if any of them ever looked up “chocolate covered olives” and realized there was no such fad.
That said, you can order them from at least one specialty retailer online (or so Google tells me), so maybe I wasn’t being as perverse as all that. But peer pressure is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?
Have you ever given in to the desire to be very bad at a big wedding where you don’t know anyone? Or am I the only one that can’t go out in public? Oh, and if either the bride or groom from that wedding are reading this, sorry about feeding your relatives chocolate-covered olives…