Trust and chocolate

Originally published March 2008 in the Dickinson County News

Things aren’t always what they seem. And people aren’t always honest.

I have a vivid childhood memory of my first practical joke – not the first joke I played, but the first joke that was “on me.”

I was visiting with my childhood neighborhood friend one afternoon after school. I believe we were in early elementary school. We were silly, were were hyper and her mom was letting us play in the kitchen.

I should admit that I was a bit of a naive child. I once ate a maple leaf because someone told me it tasted like pizza. I never ate an entire package of candy because my parents had told me my stomach would get too full and we’d have to see a doctor.

I believed what people told me. My ability to trust came naturally.

On the afternoon in question, my “friend” and I were hanging out in her kitchen checking out what was in the cupboards. She came across something she thought was interesting and told me to try it.

“It’s a new kind of chocolate,” she said.

It smelled interesting, but not like any kind of chocolate I’d ever had. Gullible as I was, I did try the substance. And I couldn’t spit it out fast enough.

This “chocolate” was coffee grounds, and I didn’t speak to my practical joker friend for months.

Our friendship never was the same after that. Sure, I forgave my neighborhood friend. I’ve never been one to hold a grudge long, but the trust just wasn’t there anymore.

Lately, I’ve been having some trust issues with a child in my life. I have a young five-year-old friend who is in a “just kidding” stage. Basically, she’s discovered lying and once she gets caught, she claims to have been “just kidding.”

It’s a surprise for me every time she plays this “game,” because usually, kids are too honest, rather than the opposite.

I suppose the moral of these stories ought to be about the damage of being too gullible, but for me it’s more about finding people you can trust.

I believe what people tell me, and I place a lot of value on trust. I like to think being a bit naive is more of a virtue than a problem.

Trust may not come as naturally these days of being an adult, but it’s often what binds people together in this world of lies and dishonesty.

Sure, trust will inevitably land you in some trouble. You’ll get burned once in a while, but it’s a better world when you trust people. The problems are easier to work through, and the relationships are better.

And even if your trust falls short once in a while, a mistake in trust will land you a new discovery. Just think, if I hadn’t been gullible, I’d have never met coffee.