Milk which has had chocolate flavoring added to it. It's delicious and nutritious. You can make it yourself (using milk and some chocolate syrup or powder), or you can buy it pre-mixed at your local grocery store. Unfortunately, chocolate milk is not found in nature.

Making chocolate milk is, at least to me, a somewhat religious experience. That is not to say that I worship chocolate, or milk, or even the admittedly divine combination thereof; as I said, the MAKING of the chocolate milk is a religious experience.

Thus, I'd like to begin with a word on store-bought ready-made chocolate milk. Chocolate does not naturally stay suspended in milk. To prevent the chocolate from settling into the bottom, a seaweed extract, karageenan, is added by manufacturers. Karageenan is not particularly tasty, gives the chocolate milk a slimy texture, and usually leaves a not entirely pleasant film coating the inside of the consumer's mouth. In addition, store-bought chocolate milk is generally a little more chocolatey than I like, and often a bit less than some others like. The inability to mix to one's own specifications is a lesser disadvantage than the fact that the whole concoction is a slimy mess in the first place, but it remains another reason to just by the Hershey's syrup and milk separately in the first place.

To finally perform the religious ceremony that is the making of chocolate milk, one needs a cup -- preferably a large one, much taller than wide -- Hershey's syrup (though other sources of chocolate could certainly be used), milk (the question of fat content is left entirely to the individual), and a butter knife. At one point, I would often use spoons or even straws to do the actual mixing. I even had a lidded cup which one could shake to mix the chocolate milk. I have found through years of experience, however, that stirring with a butter knife is far, far more fulfilling than any other implement.

When one is prepared to mix, one always adds the chocolate to the milk and not vice versa. One does not measure precisely the amount of chocolate or of milk. This is where the spiritual element first enters. One places his trust in the universe, and allows circumstance and fate to add the amount of chocolate that is right for that time and place. One allows instinct to tell him when to stop squeezing syrup into the milk.

Finally, the chocolate milk is stirred. The mind of the stirrer should be almost completely focused on the color of the milk (although sometimes it is necessary to intentionally scrape chocolate off the bottom of the cup). As one watches, one will almost invariably see the milk gradually darken to the perfect chocolate brown. The sacrament is completed. Residual chocolate milk is licked from the sides of the butter knife, and the chocolate milk is ready to be drunk.

Chocolate milk, is a delicious, divine, rich, heavenly, smooth, soulful, all around wonderful drink. There are several different varieties, ranging from 99 cent crap you find on the shelf at the corner store, that doesn't even deserve the moniker chocolate milk, to the incredible concoction that you laboured over for at least twenty minutes, the kind that comes straight out of your soul. Chocolate milk, can be created in several different ways. One way is to melt chocolate, pour said chocolate into a cup, then add milk. This method, in my opinion, is more trouble than it's worth.

My favorite method, the tried and true way, Hershey's Chocolate Syrup squirted into a tall glass of milk. The amounts of both ingredients can vary tremendously from the meek 9 parts milk, 1 part chocolate mixture that says "I can't make a good glass of chocolate milk to save my life." Or you have tooth decay. Then there's the 9 parts chocolate 1 part milk "Death by Chocolate." It's so intense, I needed to capitalise "Chocolate" in that last sentence, just to convey the sheer intensity of this monster of a drink.

And then there's powdered cocoa mix. The worst way to make chocolate milk. It is much better suited for hot chocolate, as the powder doesn't distribute evenly in cold milk. In fact the only way to make a halfway decent cup of chocolate milk with powdered cocoa mix, is to make hot chocolate out of it, then refrigerate. ( I would like to make an amendment to this statement. I had written this before I had tried using Ovaltine hot chocolate mix, to make chocolate milk. Ovaltine works for chocolate milk. And it works well.) Chocolate milk is a very intimate drink, best enjoyed by the same hands that crafted it. Despite this fact, most respectable restaurants can manage a pretty good cup.

Paul walked down the wooden stairs and headed toward the deck window to look out, to find out where he even was. He didn’t remember getting there. The street and trees past the parking lot appeared vaguely familiar; he could now guess general vicinity at least—probably downtown.

He turned back around unconcerned. The apartment was plenty nice. He could also assume he hadn’t been kidnapped by a serial killer.  He started to wander, canvassing the place when it struck him, he had never woken up in the wrong place—something entirely un-demographic, maybe a roach invested affordable housing unit. No, women (Paul learned to generalize) kept their places as a palace, as some sort of absurd Disney Land with white couches and fake, decorative items. Why was this an epiphany, because Paul hated that type of junk or because he was made insecure by it, probably neither. It just seemed to be the way things were.

Recently, Paul tried to wake up in the wrong places more and more often. A few weeks ago he slept in a Motel 6 off of the highway in a non-existent town in Oklahoma. The clerk in the window at 1:00 AM barely exchanged a single word with him, instead opting to use a calculator pressed against the window to advertise the going one-night rate. When Paul got to his room, he realized the attendant had profiled him from the cigarette tucked in between his ear and his cap. A smoking room. Worse, the door was the closest one to the interstate. Nothing like careening eighteen wheelers as a sleep aid.

In the morning, Paul drove the wrong direction toward a Waffle House, expecting something to be waiting for him there, more than likely a good breakfast. He walked in and sat down at the restaurant’s equivalent of the bar in a stool chair, a black man sat down the way from him with a newspaper propped up against the sugar jar and with his phone out playing music (Paul was aware some Waffle House’s had jukeboxes, but he had never encountered an actual DJ in one).

Paul’s waitress made heartbreaking green eye contact with him every time the two interacted, Paul overly appreciative of every slight service, saying thank you over and over, each time somehow significant. When Paul cashed out, he noted a piece of paper posted on the register.

Buy 1 Get One Chocolate Milk Free

“You never mentioned the free chocolate milk.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Do you like chocolate milk? I can get you one,” she said, already turning.

“No, no,” he grinned foolishly.

Paul tipped the entire amount of the meal and left.

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