Monday, October 15, 2012

Mountain Dew: A Lifelong Love Affair


The stuff of dreams
Yeah, you know what time it is. Tasty beverage time, à la every drink commercial you've ever seen. Beading condensation, a refreshing spray; whatever your fantasy is, baby. Soda pop is here for you, and always has been.

I first got my habit from hula lessons -- no, I know, really -- where our hale, for some unknowable reason, had electricity running to a large incongruous vending machine "out da back." Since there was nothing else remotely stimulating to the American eight-year-old in the vicinity -- being disappointingly full of stupid things like trees, well-mown play fields and other children, while totally bereft of televisions and bright plastic toys -- I turned to the glowing monolith as my only contact with the materialistic consumer real world. After every lesson, I'd take my small change out back where the vending machine stood humming on a pallet in the grass, plugged in right next to the electrical meter -- whose sole purpose was to monitor its lone charge's (ha!) consumption. There's nothing like a cool drink on a hot tropical day -- and there's nothing like soda pop to a little kid. It was, between us, the only reason I could bring myself to go to those lessons. There is something fundamental to my very biological makeup that prevents me from being able to wield puili without hurting myself.

Once I had imprinted on this delicious nectar of the gods, nothing could dissuade me from Doin' the Dew. Not the older girl at hula class who said it was pee-colored, and so therefore was pee-flavored. Not the fact that my mother suddenly decided she wasn't going to shell out for the privilege of caffeinating her child every afternoon, necessitating the gathering up of every coin I could find in order to get that sweet taste; pushing in every dirty penny one at a time with great deliberation, lest my childish motor control somehow ruin this countdown to Dew. It didn't matter -- none of it did. I had Mountain Dew.

When I was ten, the great test of our love struck on a sunny afternoon during Teacher Conferences. Not only was I out of school for two bonus days, but my mother was a teacher, so I was unsupervised & free as a bird on some high school campus I'd never seen before -- for hours each day. Shit got EXPLORED.

It was a wonderland of comically oversized school trappings; desks and chairs and lockers, for children who were the size of grownups? How droll! There was an especially wonderful outdoor staircase that, instead of having handrails, was sided by giant (in hindsight, probably 4-foot high) steps! They had to be conquered. But first, a refreshing Dew!

I had brought one along with us with almost god-like (for a ten-year-old) foresight, and once I had broken into the meeting and wheedled the car keys from my mother to let me go get it out, all was anticipation. I raced to the car; the door opened with a gagging whoosh of superheated air. I had somehow forgotten a phenomenon I had witnessed firsthand every day of my life to that date -- cars parked in the Hawaiian sun get HOT. I extracted my precious Mountain Dew, now almost too hot to touch, and returned the car keys, crestfallen. I stared at my once-frosty midday treat; what was I to do? And the answer is, drink it anyway. Besides, Mom had told me to wait a few hours for it to cool down with her in the air-conditioned conference I was continually interrupting, so of course I had to keep my treasure out of the hands of that longstanding Mountain Dew-hating nemesis. Besides, I knew what I was doing! Yeah!

I knocked it back like a champ. I don't know if anyone else in the Universe has found occasion to drink an actively hot soda, and I really don't think the lone survivor of that experience would happen upon this blog, but if the unthinkable has indeed happened -- you know what I'm talking about. There's just nothing else quite like it. (And you're glad there isn't, because that would be a nightmare world with acid-trip demons and shit.)

But I had accomplished Dew, and that meant I was victorious; and now, giant stairs! I had come from up-campus, so first I got to scramble down them; hop, hop, hop. Awesome! This was like being Alice in Wonderland! I drank something weird, and now I'm tiny! I jumped down at the bottom, spiked the landing, and looked back up the stairs; this was gonna be epic.

It was going to be much harder, my tiny brain suddenly realized, to get back up the giant stairs than to get down. But I was determined, I was ten, I was caffeinated; and most importantly, I had all day. And that, my friends, is the secret formula to achieving any goal. Can't get that spare bedroom cleaned out, or finish that last chapter you've been meaning to write? All you need is a time machine to Being Ten, a soda pop, and no supervision. I SOLVED those stairs, yo; with energy, brains, and good joint strength. If you run at a stair, I found, then sort of grab the lip of it and pull yourself up with the momentum, you'd get the upper half of your body onto the next stair; which is, of course, enough of you to then flail and heave yourself up to victory. It sounded sort of like:

Patapatapata HEAVE
Flail, flail, strain, flop

Grin, pant pant pant
Patapatapata HEAVE...

The first one was easiest, because I had an unlimited space for my run-up; the following ones could only be the length of the stair I was on. But I had. ALL. DAY.

I think there were something like four to six of these stairs -- numbers have never really been my thing -- and by the time I got to the top, I was the happiest little mess you'd ever seen. I ran a jelly-legged victory lap on the lawn at the top of the stairs. But strangely, as elated as I was, my stomach didn't feel so hot. Or rather, it felt like I'd put hot Mountain Dew in it and then slammed it into the edge of several giant stairs. Whatever you want to call that; maybe slammy.

Essentially, I had regrets.

Slammy tummy or no, I at least wanted to look back at my achievement -- but when I went back to the top of the stairs, instead of admiring my hard earned view I immediately threw up (still) hot Mountain Dew over the edge.

Of course, by the time Mom got out of conferences and the shadows were growing long, all distress had been forgotten -- after all, that was like, four hours ago -- and all I remembered was that I'd climbed Alice's Stairs. And that I didn't want any Mountain Dew.

It wasn't until high school that I managed to return to Mountain Dew's embrace -- but it was there, waiting for me. It understood, it forgave; we fell in love all over again. Unfortunately, since then I had developed a terrible chronic headache, and caffeine apparently made it worse; but after surviving the Alice-Stairs Incident, what was a little more head pain between friends? And to this day, I just chase my (now Diet) Dew with water, or at least try to take it with food; but most importantly, I just drink it anyway. Like a ten-year-old champ.


  1. I can't remember the last time I had a Dew. I'm a coffee kinda gal.

  2. Haha, this is great, I loved Mountain Dew, and I definitely don't see enough people srinking it anymore, haha.

    i also wanted to say thank you for the comment you left on my blog. it wouldn't me email you back.
    You know, I have never thought about branching outside the service industry. I always assumed that without a degree, I would be hard pressed to find a job at all, let alone one that can maneuver around my school schedule. This may be a stupid question but, what is a copy editor? Is it just what it sounds like? Sorry, I haven't heard of that before. But it sounds worth looking into. Thank you for your input, it was really helpful! :)

  3. Haha! Your writing, I like it. Mt. Dew is the drink of choice in Ohio. We have real addicts here who go through a case a day. I stick to the coffee :)

  4. Way to overcome. That seems like the sort of thing that ought to be put in a story of achievement. I feel a little dubious about this case. Thus, congratulations(?).