Friday, June 5, 2009

Fizzy Lifting Drinks

As a child, my parents, like good parents, forced me to drink milk with dinner. Although I appreciate this now, I have come to resent the why/wherefore because certain brands of milk have an aftertaste: the milk they served at school lunches tasted not like milk, but like warm cardboard water thickened with paint. If you want to get utterly compulsive (answer: you do), the milk also has to be at the right temperature. My parents would laugh when I commented "Mmm... the milk is good tonight," but there is something very particular about my taste buds in which temperature, age, milk-fat content, and not having those disgusty-crusty bits around the cap are necessary factors to quality milk.

But this is not about milk. This is about those fun times when we went out to dinner and my parents let me cast milk to the side in favor of soda-pop. Oh, sweet, syrup-based indulgence that is a fountain drink! Sprite was always my favorite (because my parents, like good parents, denied me caffeinated beverages). One day, my life changed forever when I was presented with a particularly ebullient glass of Sprite. I took one drink and my mouth recoiled. "What is this product of hellish nonsense!", I thought, but it came out "Ew!"

"Be polite," says my mom. My dad takes a drink. "Ew, she's right! This is gross!" This restaurant had neglected to refill the syrup in the fountain, and the wait-staff brought me a glass full of soda water.

Somehow, the initial shock slowly resolves itself into fascination. Why would anyone make a divisible soda product? Tonic water, and not static, in which to *mix other flavors*? How very droll! Imagine me as a child working through these problems. Imagine me as an adult drinking my first gin and tonic. Imagine me switching my beverage obsession gradually, over fifteen or more years, from soda-pop to flavored, calorie-free sparkling water. Imagine the flavors becoming too artificial, and me switching permanently to the sparkling mineral water, the likes of which purveyors Perrier or San Pellegrino market to those foolish enough to pay money for something more delicious than still water.

Imagine, nay, enjoy the strength of the bubbles, the thrill of the acrid flavor, the refreshing experience of chilled sparkling natural mineral water.

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