the night i was scheduled to fly home for Xmas i received a box of hershey’s milk chocolate pralines at approximately 19.30. that is so not my chocolate scene. i’m more of a straight up 70+% cacao kind of girl. this surprise chocolate influx left me in a bind—i wanted them to find a happy home, because the thought of even mediocre chocolates going uneaten at Christmas was sad. but i was also pressed for time and if i didn’t deal with them immediately, i never would.
i originally gave them to my room mate, who was equally unenthused. shortly thereafter brilliance struck. “hey! i’ll give them to the Russians downstairs! do you mind?”
he did not. we’re good like that. i regained possession of the loot.
by “the Russians” i meant the elderly Russian couple below us. they are adorable and walk around the neighborhood in complementary track suits (like Russian mobsters!! but i think they’re just normal). until a couple of years ago, a small, disgruntled dog accompanied them. my room mate and i’ve been trying to befriend them but they’re really independent and bridging a 60+-year age gap is challenging. inexplicably, it never occurred to us to break the ice with chocolate.
so, dressed in my red-eye outfit, i trotted downstairs to deliver the bounty. they have a lot of locks on their door, but i eventually made it inside. beside themselves with joy, they asked me approximately one million questions. the three of us spent pauses in conversation with goofy smiles on our faces.
after a bit, they whipped out a far superior box of Danish chocolates for me. in addition to neighborhood jaunts, they apparently road trip up to Solvang, a random Danish outpost on the central coast of California. i’d gone from saying “hello” to these folks in the garage to exchanging Christmas presents with them in about 20 minutes!
this chocolate exchange was probably the most heart-warming twenty minutes of December 2013. i’ve gone to see them many Friday evenings since then and even brought my parents to meet them when they visited.
so, as the Cold War 2.0 rapidly approaches, i could wrap this up into a little bundle of “love thy downstairs Russian neighbor” but i know you’re too smart for that.