Shopping for Coke with my thirteen-year-old

coke bottleMy thirteen-year-old son James is way too big to ride in a shopping cart like he used to when he was three. Plus, shopping with mom is “boring.”  He would prefer to play Xbox or shoot soccer balls in the backyard over walking around the grocery store to buy food. 

To my surprise, however, one Saturday when I casually invited him to go with me, he said: “Sure.”

Together we wandered the aisles and he was perfectly pleasant, pushing the cart and suggesting snacks.  I was happy to oblige, but when he asked if we could buy Coke, I stammered. 

Coke? 

Coca-Cola – better known as Coke – is not real food.  Coke is full of sugar and contains caffeine. Sugar plus caffeine equals one highly-charged boy who doesn’t need any more revving up than say, a boxer puppy

My thought is: What goes up must come crashing down with mom left cleaning up the damage. 

Except for the occasional party, I never buy Coke. Heck, I don’t even drink soda pop unless it’s an ingredient in a cocktail, like say, a Pimm’s, which is tasty with Sprite (a Coke brand) and muddled fruit. 

So, how did I find myself in the checkout line buying a six pack of cute, little glass bottles of Coke?

Perhaps it’s Coke’s shapely throwback bottles, or the heavily guarded secret recipe, or the possibility that “Throwback Coke” has cocaine in it. 

When the iconic “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” television commercial aired July, 1971, I would have been nearly five years old. I’m not sure I started drinking Coke by that age, but it’s a distinct possibility growing up with a soda pop-loving father. 

Back in the 1970s my Dad used to drive our empty case of glass Fiz “Specialty Beverage” bottles with the iconic bubble motif to a special cash and carry store in Rochester. Occasionally, my brother and I would ride along and help mix and match our next colorful liquid sugary goodness: orange, root beer, cream soda, black cherry, lemon-lime and my favorite: grape. Choosing pop flavors was a big deal, taking us a half an hour or more, which probably drove my very patient father nuts.

Arguing about which Fiz pop bottle to open for dinner was another ordeal between my brother and I, which most likely resulted in a physical beating and tears. Nothing, however, compares to the Spaghetti-Os incident, which is a story for another day.

There’s something warm and fuzzy about Coke.

I’m at the age now where I can use the word nostalgic instead of logic as justification for my purchase. 

In a world where I find myself buying organic produce, dairy and meats, there is zero rationale to buying Coke. Coke is not a health food. According to the label Coke is carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, artificial color and other acids (which when combined can clean corrosion from a car battery, says one specious urban internet legend).

Coke is about the experience of sipping the cool, refreshing, sweet, bubbly caramel-colored liquid and feeling it slide between your lips, into your braces and down your throat.

“It’s just a Coke, mom.”

Sigh. In the end, all good judgment and expensive rationale gets tossed out the window for that one sinful pleasure of drinking a Coke.

What do you think?

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