It’s the Little Things

[Redacted from a newsgroup post from July 9]

I found something that brightened my whole day.

When I was first diasgnosed as diabetic, the hardest part was giving up Coca-Cola; I’ve been a huge cola drinker since I was four, and settled on Coke as the One True Soda somewhere around 1981, after boyhood flirtations with RC Cola and even, sometimes, Pepsi. I’d tried diet sodas, and while Fresca was and is tasty stuff (it was better in the original formula, with cyclamates, but the current aspartame-based version’s okay; the intermediate form with saccharine was vile), it just didn’t scratch the cola itch.

Diet Coke is… icky. I can drink it without gagging, but I don’t like it. Diet Pepsi is actually slightly better, but still unpleasant.

But Coke Zero — ah, Coke Zero partakes of the true cola nature, i.e., it’s got plenty of phosphoric acid, it’s not too sweet, it has an edge. Drinking Coke Zero made it possible to survive giving up The Real Thing, and I felt blessed that the Coca-Cola Company had produced this acceptable ersatz in time for me to have it available when I needed it.

So I transitioned from drinking three or four half-liters of Coke a day to drinking four or five 12-oz. bottles of Coke Zero.

Why 12-oz. bottles? Because I don’t like cans — you can’t reseal them, they go flat sitting on my desk when I really get in the zone writing, they give everything a faint metallic taste — and our local bottler didn’t produce half-liter bottles of Coke Zero. The 12-oz. bottles are a pain — they’re more expensive, they come in cardboard cartons that clutter up the recycling bin, 12 ounces isn’t quite enough to be satisfying so I wind up opening another bottle and drinking more, which is even more expensive — but they were what I could get.

So today at Giant I was loading boxes of Coke Zero into the cart, when I glanced over and saw…

Half-liter bottles of Coke Zero!

There was no heavenly glow or choirs of angels, but there might as well have been. I put the boxes back and started loading six-packs of half-liters, instead. I bought all they had. I’m not kidding, the entire shelf — almost needed another cart.

It’s utterly trivial, I know. It’s just an attempt by the Coca-Cola Company to pry more money out of consumers’ pockets. (Not, speaking as a stockholder, that that’s a bad thing.) But it certainly made my life a little better.

8 thoughts on “It’s the Little Things

  1. Lawrence,

    So I’m going to continue using your blog to randomly comment on your books as I read & re-read them. Your guestbook logs my IP address, which seems creepy, and you answer comments on your blog.

    To give it some relevance, I’ll mention that I seem to have avoided ever liking soda, which has saved me from any number of health issues. I’m not sure what factor in my upbringing caused this, except that I’ve never liked very sweet things. Instead, I like fatty things. So you can die of diabetes and I can have a coronary. Ain’t life grand?

    Anyway, on to the books:

    Having finished The Ninth Talisman, I looked through some of my older Watt-Evans collection and noticed Touched By The Gods. Flipping through that one it seems like your new trilogy is an attempt to re-work the central idea of Touched By The Gods, that is that any Chosen Hero in a mythopoetic universe might find their situation just as absurd and unjust as the reader should. I’m finding the new series much better than Touched, so I’m glad you had the chance to rework the idea.

    Also, I’m noticing that you’re getting away from the Ethshar theme of most people being essentially good execept for the villians; your new series seems almost an exploration of what happens when weak people are given extraordinary powers. You’ve had a lot of evil characters before, but not a lot of venal ones. That I can think of, anyway. Am I forgetting some?

  2. Hey, I answer comments wherever I see them; the blog’s as good a place as any. There’s also the discussion page.

    There are lots of sodas I don’t like — Sprite seems sticky-sweet to me — but I’ve always liked Coke.

    I hadn’t thought of the Annals of the Chosen as reworking the same ideas as Touched by the Gods, but I can see the similarity now that you mention it. I do that a lot, running variations on a theme — the vengeance-obsessed hero of Dragon Weather is the mirror image of the vengeance-obsessed villain of Touched by the Gods, for example.

    The idea of a Chosen One who isn’t enthusiastic about his role goes all the way back to my first novel, The Lure of the Basilisk, really.

    As for venal characters, I’m sure I’ve written some before, though I admit no names leap to mind at this hour.

  3. Lawrence,

    Ah, Dragon Weather had so much Count of Monte Cristo to me that I didn’t even think about your other books. BTW, avoid the recent movie version if you’ve not seen it already.

    You’ve had quite a few reluctant heros — more than enthusiastic ones, really — but what’s particular to Touched and Annals is a hero who is actively rebelling against the whole system which selected them as a hero, because it’s broken. Garth Overman was kind of like that too, I suppose; certainly he fights to avoid his “destiny” although I don’t feel he does the same kind of self-examination which Sword does.

  4. Lawrence,

    Yes. They’ve held up surprisingly well, though; I re-read them a couple years ago and enjoyed them.

  5. Personally, I’m the exact opposite; I can’t stand the sweetness of regular Coke, but I’ve always loved Diet Coke, even as a kid. Diet Coke with Lime proved to be the godsend.

    I feel your frustration, though. I can never seem to find the 20oz bottles of DCwL except in gas-stations or vending machines. No supermarket I’ve ever seen has carried them.

  6. I haven’t tried the lime version; I know adding a twist of lemon makes Diet Coke much better.

    The local Magruders carries most Coke products in 20-oz. bottles, but I’m not sure about Diet Coke with Lime — I’ll take a look next time I’m in there. I find 20 oz. a little too much.

    Interesting how much tastes vary on this stuff!

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