According to the Social Security Administration, I can expect to live to be 84.6 years old. Since I am over 40, my life is about half over.
I started to consider what I have done with my first 40 years and how I will spend those remaining. I asked myself, “What is the meaning of life anyway?”
I am an avid reader and believe that great truths can be found in great works of fiction. I started my search for the meaning of life by reading some great novels. I read my way through the works of Jane Austen and Tolkien. I found romance and adventure and ‘the triumph of good over evil,’ but not the meaning of life. I hoped to find the answer when I read the Twilight series, but no. The Hunger Games series disappointed as well. I finally found my answer in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. According to Douglas Adams, the meaning of life is “42.” I was relieved, but this answer did not fulfill me.
As a modern woman, I decided to use technology in my quest for the meaning of life. I grabbed my smart phone. “Siri, what is the meaning of life?” She answered, “All evidence to date points to chocolate.” Chocolate? Chocolate! Something within me resonated with this and I was certain that Siri was pointing me in the right direction.
As wonderful as that answer is, “chocolate” is still a little broad. What form of chocolate, specifically? Chocolate candy? Chocolate bars? Chocolate cake? Cookies? Pie? Chocolate brownies? Chocolate ice cream?
For help in narrowing this down, I turned away from fiction and started to read histories. Marie-Antoinette, wife of King Louis XVI of France, has been credited with dismissing the peasants’ lack of bread with a callous, “Let them eat cake.” Many historians have discredited this popular myth. They suggest that Marie-Therese, wife of King Louis XIV might have actually said this, several decades earlier.
Between Siri and Marie-Therese, my search for the meaning of life has been narrowed down to Chocolate + Cake.
This is small enough to be manageable yet large enough to bring hope. My research into how chocolate cake can bring meaning to life began. I travel around the world for a living and have eaten chocolate cake on three continents thus far. When a server in a restaurant asks, “What will you have for dessert?” I answer, “Chocolate cake.” You would be surprised at the variety of dishes this answer brings to my table.
I have received flourless chocolate cake. This dense chocolate dessert is rich and thick. It is full of flavor but has not satisfied me.
I have eaten chocolate brownie cake. This is served with ice cream (and I do not like ice cream) so that’s one point against. It typically contains nuts (also not my favorite) so that’s another point against. Chocolate brownies are good in theory, but lose something in reality.
I have tasted chocolate cheesecake. Whether New York style or Italian, cheesecake does not serve up enough inspiration to carry me through the next 40 years.
I enjoyed chocolate pudding cake. It is warm and comforting and wonderful, but somehow falls short of the meaning of life.
I attempted Red Velvet cake. No. Just no.
Most often I receive chocolate lava cake. This is usually served with ice cream (enough with the ice cream already!). It is served warm and chocolate goo springs from the center. Interesting concept, but it did not bring meaning to my life.
My search for the meaning of life in chocolate cake stagnated.
I had to look for other sources of inspiration. I considered my would-be paramour: a giant green ogre named Shrek. He has many wise words, but none apply to chocolate cake bringing meaning to life. His sidekick Donkey put everything into place for me when he said, “Everybody loves cake! Cakes have layers.”
Layers! Layers were missing from the unsatisfying chocolate cakes I had eaten.
After this epiphany, I quizzed the restaurant wait staff about their cake. “Can I tell you about tonight’s specials?” they would ask. “I would rather hear about your chocolate cake,” I would answer. If they said “flourless” or “lava,” I knew their cake would not bring meaning to my life. If I they said “layers” or “frosting,” I was willing to sample their cake, hoping it would bring enlightenment.
If you plan to join me on this quest to find the meaning of life in chocolate cake, avoid Applebee’s, Chili’s, Ruby Tuesday, and TGI Friday’s. They have no cake. Olive Garden has a chocolate cake, but it is not served in all locations. Ask about the cake before ordering your dinner. If that location has cake, just order salad for your diner. If it does not have cake, order a full meal; there is no need to save room for dessert.
Choose instead to visit:
Red Lobster. Their Chocolate Wave is served with ice cream, so remember to ask them to throw that part away.
Charlie Brown’s. Their slice of chocolate cake is larger than a human head.
Cheesecake Factory. They have two chocolate cakes and I make them show me a slice of each to be certain I am getting the right one.
Bertucci’s. Best. Chocolate. Cake. Ever.
Denny’s. (but only if you are desperate)
You can continue this search at home. I started with King Arthur’s Flour website. I made rich chocolate cakes, vegan chocolate cakes, gluten-free chocolate cakes, and ended up with Betty Crocker. It’s pretty good!
On my deathbed, I will be able to sum up the meaning of life in one succinct statement that future generations will plaster on their car bumpers.
Until that day, I will agree with Audrey Hepburn who said, “Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does it for me.”