Things started to change for me the day this local chocolatier decided to sponsor a contest and give the winners a tour of his factory. He was an eccentric recluse--sort of a cross between Howard Hughes and Michael Jackson--and desperately in need of some good PR. See, his factory (or actually "cult compound" is more like it) had always operated in kind of a legal gray area. For years, there'd been whispers about industrial espionage, indentured servitude, all sorts of malfeasance. But now the accusations had advanced beyond the usual management-labor stuff into Nazi war-crime territory. The entire Product Development team, in fact, had been accused of experimenting on human subjects. Really unspeakable stuff, like turning people into giant blueberries.
Of course, now we know that the whole contest was a gambit to evade government inspections. But at the time it seemed like good clean fun. How did I get all mixed up in this?, you might ask. Well, the way the contest worked is that you had to find a golden ticket inside one of the chocolate bars. I'd had some problems with scratch-off lottery tickets in the past, so this contest struck a nerve with me and I spent every dime I had on it: my paper route money, my family's grocery money, everything. "Go pick up some bread," my mom would say to me, and the next thing you'd know I'd be in some decrepit alleyway, tears streaming down my face, chocolate all over my mouth. Nowadays we call this a gambling addiction, but at the time there was no household term for it, and the only thing to do was to suffer in silence.
Then a very strange thing happened. Against all odds, I found the golden ticket. I won the contest (that is to say, if being lured into the domicile of a weird confectionist can ever properly be described as "winning").
So I got to tour the candy factory. I don't have time to tell you what-all went on there, but let me just say that it was some fucked up shit. Not everybody made it out of there OK. And, strangely, the contest ended up being more than just a ham-handed PR stunt. Turns out the confectionist was also grooming his successor. And guess which puckish little kid had just the right amount of charm to land the job? Guess which mop-headed scamp finagled his way right into upper management? You guessed it: I did.
So where does that leave us? Well, I'll tell you where it leaves me. It leaves me as the BIGGEST CHOCOLATE MAGNATE IN WHOLE, MOTHER-EFFIN' WORLD. You've heard of Hershey? He's a punk compared to me, and you can tell him I said so. Cadbury? I can buy and sell him a hundred times over. Basically, it's my world now and you all just live in it.