5 years ago I became a Diet Coke drinker.
I remember the day it all began.
There I was, 7:00am at the high school where I was doing my student teaching, and staring bleary eyed at the lesson plans before me.
"I can't do this... I'm so tired!"
I remember thinking that. I remember it because I was, in fact, so very tired and I did, in fact, feel I couldn't do it. It was one of those really emotional tipping points where lying under a desk in the fetal position seemed a completely healthy way to deal with tiredness and stressness.
I needed something to lift my spirits... or mostly, my eyelids. I needed something to wake me the hell up.
And then I remembered something...
I remembered my 11th grade Honors English teacher and his almost religious devotion to his gigantic Maverick mug brimming with what he deemed life-saving elixir - Diet Coke. I remember the quips in my education classes or wandering the halls through various Jr. high and high schools: "I need my Diet Coke this morning or I'll never make it!" or as an excuse for memory lapse, "Sorry I forgot to put on pants... I haven't had my Diet Coke yet." Or perhaps, "I didn't mean to staple his hand to the desk, I haven't had my Diet Coke yet." The officer would then nod and look around for a staple remover.
I assumed also that it must be the DIET variety pegged for ritualistic consumption as that somehow makes it less of a vice than a pure sugary Cola. Vices have limits and apparently aspartame is the saving grace of caffeinated beverage addicts. It's like heroine without the... dirty needle. It's just a clean needle. If only I knew more about illegal substances - then that allusion could've been really effective!
Plus it's referred to in the Mormon underground as "LDS coffee." What greater evidence did I need?
That morning... I sought out a dealer.
I found it in the teacher's lounge glowing iridescent in the morning light. I walked toward the machine and deposited my coins; glancing over my shoulder as bodily shadows drifted in and out with their own morning pick-me-ups. I was among friends.
The Diet Coke spewed forth, and I took it back up to my classroom before unscrewing the cap. I wanted my first taste to be in private.
PsssssssssTUH! Glug. Cough. Sniff. Eye water.... mmmmm....
A Diet Coke addict was born.
5 years later, I am lying in bed thinking, how did it come to this? Since that morning so long ago, I've procured a can or small fountain (yes, I do exercise some restraint thank you) Diet Coke every morning for the extra boost of "get me through this day." Before that morning so long ago, I hadn't so much as glanced at a carbonated beverage. No not once. But now, I was becoming a slave to it. Well, more like an indentured servant though I'm not sure what the agreement ever was. I reflected on the many Sundays when I had neglected to stalk my fridge the Saturday before with a daily dosage and resorted to putting on a hood and dark shades to drive to the local gas station just for a fix. I recall many times being overcome with giddyness at the prospect of a 20 pack of DC on sale for $12 (Smiths!). Of becoming disgruntled and irritable by 11:00am if I hadn't guzzled a can of happy juice. My mood, my finances, and even my religious orthodoxy were effected!
Then there's my health to consider.
I'm one of those people who never got cavities. Ever. Until... that is... about 3 years ago. My diet hadn't changed, I'm not a big "candy" muncher, and yet, my cavity incidents had gone up I'd say 80%. Meaning I was getting 2 cavities a year as opposed to NONE (don't check that percentage you dork - no one likes a math geek). May not seem like a big to-do to YOU! But for someone who doesn't get cavities, brushes twice a day, flosses, fluorides, and doesn't eat a lot of candy on top of never getting cavities anyway... it seemed very strange!
Then there's the indigestion. Somewhat genetic. I am slightly lactose intolerant and my Grandma said I have what's called the "Petty back and the Petty stomach." This means my lower back tends to ache at the end of a long day on my feet and always has done. This is an aside... I also experience "sour stomach" with anything that's not bland or covered in gravy. The starches and I have always gotten along... acid substances? Not as much. And over the past 3 or so years, I feel my scrambling for two Tums has increased and/or elevated to carrying a flask of Pepto Bismol in my purse. Sweet stomach coating liquid.
Last night, as I lay in bed contemplating life and various other things, I felt a little sick to my stomach and deposited two Tums down the old gullet. It was then I noticed an empty Diet Coke can on my dresser table and realized, woah.... I'm killing myself with aspartame. It makes my tummy hurt as it eats slowly away at my esophageal lining day in and day out. It erodes my enamel. It rules my mornings. It probably is keeping me from getting a raise!
Diet Coke, my friends, is the enemy! And I've been letting it slowly wind its flaxen cords around me for years! YEARS!
Well no more I tell you! I'm threw. I'm over it. Me and the DC? We're broken up for good. For the next couple weeks - it's me and Mr. Aspirin and then me and independence! I won't be a slave to substance and I won't let my insides be eaten up by a delicious little Carmel colored pathogen with fizz! (Realistically - I'll contain my DC shenanigans to a weekend movie or dinner.... or holiday... or with pizza... what?). And I'm very curious to see if my Tums consumption reduces and I once again am awarded a sugar free lolly for having no cavities for the fifth time in a row! In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if I even grew a little taller.
So let it be written, so let it be done.