January 8, 2011

Thoughts on Soda.

I describe the end of the tour at the World of Coca-cola in Atlanta as the greatest room I've ever been in. After being steadily indoctrinated with Coca-cola propaganda you paid to see, including a cheesy "4-D" film and awkward brushes with the Coca-cola Polar Bear (is he a mascot?), you're given a plastic cup and set loose in a room with several fountain stations, each representing a continent of our fine planet, and each has several different kinds of soda from that continent. You're encouraged to sample as many as you'd like. As I've already told you it's a dream for me, but it's a nightmare for dentists and recovering sodaholics. I have never seen so many wide-eyed kids running around, elbowing grown-ups out of the way to fill their cup yet again with every bizarre soda pop from Poland, or Cambodia, or Suriname. But on the Africa station: Tangawizi. The finest, most delicious ginger beer in all the world, straight from my beloved Tanzania. I would pay the admission and have awkward brushes with the bear again just to regard it with my taste buds.

I have done worse for soda. I drove across the country for Dr Pepper in college. Not just any Dr Pepper, Dublin Dr Pepper. I would do it again. Here in Puerto Rico, Dr Pepper is incredibly difficult to come by. If I were to find out there was a place in San Juan that maintained a regular supply, I would happily drive across this tiny island for it. I would drive to Cuba for it if I knew it were there. Dr Pepper is good. Coca-cola is no slouch. My main beef with Coca-cola is that they've successfully convinced everyone living south of the mason-dixon line that every kind of pop should be called Coke. It's as though Coca-Cola was the original and all else are imitators. It was called "The Real Thing," after all. But 7Up is not a type of Coke. 7Up is a crisp and refreshing lemon-lime based beverage. Sierra Mist can probably be called 7Up in more vulgar, less refined circles. But neither one is Coke. It's not cola. In fact, 7Up is Uncola. Not all pop is Coke. Even in parts of the world where Coke is pretty much the only option, they call it soda. Come on, American South, you can figure this out. But I digress.

Like all good things, Soda pop must come in moderation. After all, it's no good to bathe your teeth in acidic sugar every day. So recently, I severely cut back my intake. No pop, Monday - Friday. I've given up pop in the past for a month or more at a time. But I always come crawling back to its crisp, cool, refreshing sweetness. So I thought it was a good idea to not cut it out completely, but continue my relationship with it in moderation.

For the last week, I've gone each day without it. And the weird thing is, I didn't miss it that much. Sure, there comes a point each day, often in the late morning or early afternoon, when I need a pick me up and my taste buds cry out for something cold, sweet and bubbly. Soda pop, for the record, is only to be consumed in its coldest form. Warm soda is like swill, the sweetness and bubblyness is only good when the coldness is there, too. But at those times when I want to reach for a pop, there really is no substitute. Not tea. Not kool-aid. Not Tab. Not crab juice. The only option is to say no. You can't really be creative. You just have to say no.

And that concludes my thoughts on the matter. Somewhere in there is an object lesson. I don't know where. I didn't put it there. That's just how it is.

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