Valentine's Day 2016
Hillary visits Las Vegas, Valentine’s Day 2016

In my quest to explore the US chocolate experience, I didn’t have to go far from home to have the chocolate experience of my life!  And, it was my chocolate that made it happen.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to get all politico on you.

Suffice it to say, I’m for Hillary and I do what I can to support her in my Las Vegas community.

I’m not a big muckety-muck. I’m a phone banker, canvasser and precinct captain, like hundreds of other Nevadans.

I’m also a source of chocolate for local campaign gatherings. Like I said, I do what I can.

I thought it would be fun to make my chocolates even more encouraging for those who use it as fuel to get through yet another round of phone calls.  Thanks to my training at Ecole Chocolat and hobnobbing at the Fine Chocolate Industry Association events, I knew just what to do. I arranged for a custom transfer sheet with Hillary’s logos and — voila!

As fast as you can say, “emails, what emails?” I became the “chocolate lady who makes those Hillary chocolates.”

And then in early February, Bill Clinton came to town and I was invited to his rally. I knew I had to get a box of Hillary chocolates into Bill’s hands. The Secret Service guys didn’t see it that way.

The best I could do was give the box to a state campaign organizer and ask him to pass it on to Bill. Maybe I was mistaken, but later on, I could swear I saw a chocolate smear in the corner of the organizer’s mouth.

I left dazzled by this charming past President, but disappointed that I didn’t get to shake the hand of the maybe first-gentleman-to-be and get a photo of me giving him the Hillary chocolates.

But it seems the universe was up to a cat-and-mouse game, and I was the cheese.

On February 13th, one week before the Nevada caucus, I received a call – Hillary is coming to Las Vegas tomorrow and would I be willing to drive a van full of Hillary staffers in her motorcade?

I showed up with a small cooler full of two boxes of chocolates to share with Hillary’s staffers and the Secret Service guys and one box for HER.

We drove from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM navigating the not-so-glitzy parts of Las Vegas, stopping at senior centers, an African American church, union halls and a sandwich shop in Chinatown (Yes, Las Vegas has a Chinatown. It’s just one street with a strip mall, but it is in pagoda style!)

Talk about sandwich.  The van I was driving was sandwiched between two Secret Service cars in the front, a police car in the back and two police cars weaving in and out of our little parade, making sure no cars merged in.  My only two instructions: stay close to the bumper in front and don’t hit it. I was bare-knuckling it the whole way, trying to keep up in this lumbering Super-Shuttle-size van.

The 20-something wunderkinds I was carting around didn’t acknowledge my presence at first. And the Secret Service fellow in charge of me did not take kindly to my request for him to back that tank of a van into the parking spot he was directing me into at one of the stops.

And it wasn’t fun having to stay in the van at each stop on the ready to rip off at a moment’s notice. I could only see Hillary getting in and out of the car in front of me at each stop and was wondering how I was going to orchestrate a meeting. Jumping out and accosting her didn’t seem like a smart move.

My view of Hillary from the van.

But then I pulled out the chocolate and it was VIP all the way. The staffers were suddenly chatty and Aaron, the Secret Service guy, now on first name basis,  asked if there was anything he could do to make my day more comfortable.

“All I want is to meet Hillary and give her this box of chocolates.”

He offered to pass the box on to her, but I was burned on that with Bill!  I trusted the universe to provide a chance for me to give Hillary the chocolate myself.

To my surprise, the Secret Service and staffers made it happen.  At the very last stop and after asking for a third piece of chocolate, Aaron started to walk away from the van, then stopped, turned around and said, “come on.”

Within 10 minutes, the staffers had me shaking Hillary’s hand and the photographer took a photo of Hillary and me holding the heart-shaped box of chocolates I made for her, with her logo on them.

She was delighted.

It was the best chocolate experience of my life. It was Valentine’s Day, after all!