Subtitled: A Eulogy of a Love Affair
Like all classic love affairs, it began innocently enough.
A glance across the room in high school. A night at the movies in college.
By the time I graduated from college, I didn’t really notice that Diet Coke had left a toothbrush at my place, started taking over a shelf in the medicine cabinet and began adding itself to my grocery shopping list. By the time I was working full time my insatiable need for Diet Coke had taken hold, seemingly without warning.
A can at breakfast. A fountain drink at lunch. A mid-afternoon pick-me-up. The discovery of Diet Dr. Pepper.
It didn’t hurt that the first office I worked at had a veritable pipeline of Diet Coke in the form of company-supplied-and-maintained soda fountains.
Assessing future employers based on access to diet caffeinated cola products became practically my top priority in my job hunt. I was only stymied by the fact that most companies don’t include “access to coke” in job descriptions.
Directors who knew me knew that my productivity, when bolstered by diet caffeinated cola, was that of five semi-hungover employees. Directors who loved me understood that Diet Dr. Pepper was my hands down favorite diet caffeinated cola.
See, I spent much time analyzing and rating my preferred diet caffeinated colas, resulting in Diet Dr. Pepper winning every time, followed by Diet Coke from McDonalds (has to be – nothing compares), followed by Diet Pepsi in a 20 ounce bottle or 12 ounce can followed by Diet Coke in a can.
I wrote a poem about Diet Coke.
At my first job.
My first grown-up job.
I did that.
And? My director thought it was a lovely poem and hung it on her wall.
It’s a disease, people.
Of course, as my love affair with diet caffeinated colas heated up, the buzz about the suspect ingredients also started building. Around the time we started to try to have children, the diet caffeinated cola love affair was peaking, but it was nearly impossible to ignore the mounting evidence that some of the ingredients were not good for me.
I almost felt shame every time I heard the pop and the “pssshhh” of the can opening.
Most doctors seem to agree that women trying to get pregnant and those who were already pregnant should cut the caffeine.
So, I quit.
It was easy to quit. Too easy.
I heard myself say these words, “See? I don’t need Diet Coke. I can quit at any time.”
You may have heard those same words on A&E’s Intervention or you know, any show about drug addiction.
I was “clean” for my entire pregnancy with the twins.
While in the NICU, Carrie had an apnea incident (basically she forgot to breath) and I heard one of the nurses mention that babies who have chronic apnea incidents are sometimes put on caffeine. And I thought, “what if I drink some Diet Coke, pump and give it to her via breast milk Maybe that will help!” Mom to the rescue!
So I called my old flame Diet Coke. I wondered what it would be like after all that time. Would there be the heat and the passion that I remembered?
Oh, that first blissful sip. It was so good. So bubbly. So cold. So fresh and delicious.
But the innocence was gone. I knew better. I knew the scandalous ingredients. I knew too much.
I tried to keep my torrid affair out of the public eye. I knew there were others who would judge. Others who knew that I knew that they knew that I knew that Diet Coke has some pretty nasty crap in it.
When I went back to work, I started a bad habit of going to McDonald’s for oatmeal in the morning – and oh – a Diet Coke. Only $1 for 32 ounces. I mean, why not? The small, medium and large are all priced the same.
It would be tragic to pay the same as a large, but only get a small.
And then I discovered that the twins loved Oatmeal. As a mom on the run, Oatmeal became the perfect breakfast food on the go.
And some Diet Coke… in a giant tub… with a straw.
After some time, I noticed that I was needing some more diet caffeinated cola around lunch. Plus, sandwiches always taste better with diet caffeinated cola. We have a vending machine that sells Diet Dr. Pepper. In 20 ounce bottles.
If you’re doing the math with me, you’re probably noticing that on most days I was drinking 50+ ounces of diet caffeinated deliciousness - often well before noon.
So this New Year, I decided to give it up.
Go cold turkey.
I challenged the part of me that said, too casually, “I can give it up at any time.”
And so I did. I discovered tea and coffee. A more “mellow buzz” if you will.
I sip. I try to drink water.
Today, I found myself thinking about lunch. I usually think about lunch about 2.4 seconds after I finish breakfast. So, there I was, thinking about lunch… and how delicious a large Diet Coke from McDonald’s would be.
I didn’t cave.
And just like that, I realized that I was over Diet Coke. We had our moment in the sun, but our season together was over.
One month, twelve days, 20 hours, 41 minutes.
Fair thee well, diet caffeinated cola products. Fair thee well.
:: and scene::