Thursday, September 17, 2009

In Memorium: 17 September 2009

It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of a very good friend of mine. Today I learned that one of my best friends of the past three decades will no longer be a part of my life.

I first encountered Diet Coke while in High School in the early 1980s. We immediately became friends. Some might call it a love affair. Others might even use the term "obsession." Rarely did a day go by when you couldn't find us together. There exist many photographs of the two of us. A coworker once remarked to me that he didn't recognize me without a Diet Coke in hand.

When I first received the 6-Week Cure book, I was appalled to learn that I had to give up caffeine for the first two weeks. I didn't want to do it; wasn't sure if I could. However, a promise was a promise, and I decided to give it a try. I committed to part from my good friend for at least two weeks.

We said goodbye on a warm Saturday afternoon in August. We stopped at the 7-Eleven in Wolfeboro and shared a Big Gulp. From there we travelled to Ossippee and spent the rest of the afternoon at Connor Pond. Then we parted company. I have to admit, those first few days were tough. As Homer Simpson once said, "Going cold turkey isn't nearly as delicious as it sounds."

At the start of Week 3 of the Plan, I was informed that I could begin adding caffeine back into my diet. However, I needed to avoid aspartame. Those who know me know that I don't drink coffee or tea in any variety, and there aren't many caffeinated sugar-free soft drinks without aspartame. Regular Coke and other sodas like it were out of the question due to their sugar content. Much to my delight, my friend showed up at the house one day wearing some powder-blue highlights. It was Diet Coke, with Splenda! My problems were over, or so I thought.

Much to my horror, it just wasn't the same. It wasn't really my friend, but a sad impostor. Not knowing what else to do, I pretended that nothing was wrong. I played along, and faked my enjoyment as we had lunch together every day for twelve days. The final day was yesterday, and I told the impostor that it was no longer welcome in my home. There was no argument; no tears; not even a good bye.

Today I decided to give up. No, not on the plan, but on the prohibition against aspartame. "Once a day can't hurt," I reasoned. At lunch time, I made my decision, and once again we were together. The can was icy cold, as it should be. I cracked the top and paused briefly to savor the moment. Then, slowly, with tenderness normally reserved for fragile objects, carefully took a sip.

I almost wept with the disappointment. The taste was awful. I've spent so much time eating and drinking nothing but real foods over the past three and a half weeks, that this artificially-sweetened soda was like bad medicine to me. I couldn't imagine what I found appealing about this stuff, or why I spent so much of my time and money on it. The attraction was gone. I simply didn't want anymore.

So there it is. Diet Coke is dead to me. Although I no longer care for its flavor, I'll always cherish the memories of the good times we shared together.

I still have two 12-packs (less one can) here in the house. If you'd like them, let me know. I'll be in the kitchen refilling my water glass -- which incidentally, is in a Coca-Cola glass.

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