I was floundering in the depths. All was dark. But then a lovely swirl of brown and white—a chocolate nebula of relief—floated in front of me. You’ll regret this, I told myself, but then I gave in to the inevitable. I downed the chocolate in one long, thick sip.

I began with one shot, telling myself I would stop there, but didn’t have the courage to push myself away from the resin wood-block counter. I lowered the fist-sized white cup, but before it touched the counter I was already ordering the next one, a double, straight up, hold the milk and hurry it up, honey.

“Haven’t you had enough?” the chocolatista asked, after I put away several more and demanded yet another.

“I can handle my chocolate,” I said, which was true. In chocolate-drinking contests I was always the last person sitting, everybody else too buzzed to remain in their post-millennia stainless steel and plastic chairs. I built a reputation, cup by glorious cup. And now I would pay the price.

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