When it comes to will power and self control, I’ve always considered myself to be blessed with it in abundance.
Sure, like many men, I’ve lost years of my life to the computer game, Football Manager. But rather than look at the number of hours I’ve wasted on that game, you should look at the number of Premier League and Champions League trophies I’ve added to Liverpool’s already ample collection. And when you see my name sitting above Alex Ferguson’s amongst the World’s Greatest Managers, you should not consider it a waste of time, but the fulfilment of destiny!
Harder to defend are the bagels. The beautiful… toasted golden… dripping with butter… melt-in-your-mouth… delicious bagels, upon which, for the briefest of periods, I was absolutely dependent. Those dark days are behind me now, and, if anything, I am stronger for having lived them.
Those lapses aside, I have been stalwart in my resistance to the rest of life’s vices. When Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior told me to say “No” to drugs, I listened. My smoking is limited to victory cigars (…of which there has been surprisingly few), and my drinking is used only for the purpose it was invented – to loosen my inhibitions.
Stalwart, I was. But not anymore, it seems.
For on a cold, wet day in October, stepping into the warmth of Leaf, a teashop and bar on town’s Bold Street, I was faced with a simple question: what should one drink to drive away the pre-winter chills?
The options were simple enough. Either I could cling to my youth and dull the pain with an even colder beer; or I could submit to the old man within and order a more mature brew (tea, in this case, as I don’t think I’ll ever be mature enough to drink coffee). Yet, when the time came to place my order, not even I was ready for the words that spilled from my mouth…
Not since my days as a young, inexperienced student still trying to find his way in the world had I thought it acceptable to fend off the bitter cold with some sickly-sweet warmth. In my narrow mindedness I had thought such things were for women and children… and my old flat mate, Matt. Yet, from nowhere, an overwhelming urge took hold of me and before I knew what was happening I had called out enthusiastically, “Hot Chocolate!”
Even now, knowing how special I must have looked trying to lick the chocolate froth from my beard, I doubt I could have resisted that urge, so strong was the need. Nor was I disappointed, for it was indeed warm, sweet, and delicious. It was the perfect choice.
That one might even have been enough for me, if not for the lady friend at my side when I ordered the drink. Having revealed a chink in my armour, cunning and devious wench that she is, Jen could not miss the opportunity to sink her claws in even further. ‘I make a good hot chocolate,’ she boasted. ‘I’ll make you one tonight.’
Sure enough, she delivered on her promise.
Yet Jen doesn’t just make hot chocolate. She infuses it with marshmallows and pink sugar, forging a mouth watering, heart straining concoction of delights…
…I can almost taste it now.
With the days getting colder, hardly a night goes by when I’m not seeking out a mug of hot chocolate. Jen is always there when I do, eager to satisfy my need. Even when I try to make it myself, she insists on doing it for me.
She never uses herself of course … sorry, drinks… she never drinks hot chocolate herself. It makes her happy, she says, just making something I’ll enjoy.
Jen thinks I don’t see what she’s done, but I do. She’s got me hooked and now she thinks she owns me. She’s wrong!
I’m going to let her keep thinking that way for as long as the weather stays cold. But I remember the bagels. I know I have the strength to say “no” whenever I want, and one day soon I’m going to turn it around on her!
Not tonight though. Tonight it’s cold, and I can smell cocoa…