Monday, September 25, 2006

Soda fiend

I have a soda problem.

I know it. I admit it. And still, I'm bugged by the people who call me on it.

I was swilling my latest bucket'o'Diet Pepsi when someone (who I prefer to remain anonymous) waddled up to me and said, "Could you find a faster way to get diabetes?"

I had just seen him chow down about a pound of sweet and sour chicken with white rice, but I couldn't work up a snappy yet marginally polite comeback in time so I just mumbled, "um ... it's diet soda."

"So?" he asked.

"So it doesn't have any sugar."

He looked at me incredulously, so I added, "So it's a good way to get cancer, but not really diabetes."

Then he laughed and patted his stomach and said, "Yeah, I have to cut down myself."

I'm not sure we actually communicated at all during the exchange, but he did leave me feeling dull pangs of shame. I couldn't even enjoy the rest of my soda bucket, with those crisp flashes of ultra-sweetness followed by throat-tingling carbonation in every gulp. No, I actually dumped it out. But two hours later, I was back to craving soda all over again.

Sometimes I try to analyze why I've become such a soda fiend. I used to drink regular Pepsi and Dr. Pepper like they were the elixor of life until I realized they were probably the main reason I was carrying 20 extra pounds. So I switched to diet, and now I'm like an ex-smoker addicted to nicotine patches. In fact, I prefer diet now. I don't think it's the caffeine - I get giddy about Fresca (I mean, who wouldn't?) And I've proven to myself that it's not the sugar. So what is it? Why do I get happiness triggers firing in my synapses every time I think about stopping at a convenience store?

And what, really, do I have to gain by quitting it all? Until I figure that out, I'll probably just keep hoping they one-up that wimpy 64-ounce Super Mega Gulp.