I used to have a bit of a Diet Coke problem. Like, to the degree that it was my "thing." After I graduated from high school, my favorite English teacher told me that for the first three months of school, she nicknamed me "DC Girl" because I would stumble into first period and shotgun two cans of the stuff before listing to one side and rambling about how Gene and Finny were doomed from the start.
I still have vivid sense memories of taking swigs while hunched over my refrigerator at 4:30 in the morning my senior year, not even liking the taste anymore, just needing the tonsil-shock acidity to make it through one last paper.
After six heady months of an unlimited supply thanks to my corporate job, I just -- quit one day, cold turkey. I still don't know what happened. It's not like I'm particularly inclined to make healthy decisions regarding my body, I just…didn't want it anymore. And that was that.
I'm not a big refined or artificial sugar consumer now, so I'm a little unused to mass quantities of the stuff entering my body all at once. Still, when I heard that Mountain Dew was developing a new "breakfast drink," I was pretty sure that all those mornings swilling Diet Coke on the train to high school had adequately prepared me to take a test run.
This was incorrect.
I hear that Mountain Dew's breakfast drink was inspired by a soda/orange juice drink mix that Taco Bell sells with its breakfast tacos. I was heretofore unaware that Taco Bell made breakfast tacos, but I suppose drunk college students eventually don't realize that the sun's come up. According to the Mail, their breakfast drink will apparently contain more "vitamins" and less "phenylalaine," which I feel will be fortunate for everyone who wishes to procreate beyond the year 2020. (Remember when Mountain Dew as a contraceptive was a thing? After this experiment, I'm a believer.)
Anyway, I want to be thorough, so I purchase a wide variety of Dews, including Diet and Blood of Mine Enemies. I try to get some orange juice to mix with the Sweat-Hill, but the bodega down the street from my house only sells grapefruit juice. The result seems…menacing.
I've decided to start with the Diet Mountain Dew in an effort to ease my body into the idea of consuming something lime green before 10 am, so down the hatch it goes!
Oh sweet Jesus.
I don't know if it's the caffeine, the extreme sugar content of that grapefruit juice, or the fact that it's Galentine's Day and I've also consumed a pound of black licorice and Jelly Bellies, but I am worrying at the skin on my knuckles like a teething baby. I've also opened and closed the same tab six times.
I still have half a bottle of Diet Mountain Dew left but I want to ration out my juice, so I chug it straight and try to ignore the pounding in my head. I am suddenly, irrationally, window-slappingly furious.
We go out to a belated Galentine's Day lunch with the team. I become dimly aware, halfway through, that I have been the only one talking for at least five minutes. I rip my napkin into tiny paper shreds in an effort to stop monologuing about what "Parks and Recreation" means to me. Afterwards, my intern tells me that I've made her laugh so hard that her stomach hurts, but I can't really recall anything I said.
I finally start to feel normal again. Still a little like I'm going to collapse underneath my desk, but that's relatively standard for my afternoon slump.
Get on shuttle bus home. Instantly pass out.
I have a giant presentation at work, and in the interest of not completely screwing up my career in the name of chemical experimentation, I decide to sit this day out. This turns out to be a good decision.
After Wednesday's debacle, I'm a little hesitant about breaking out the full-sugar stuff, but I have a commitment to journalism! Also, I didn't sleep much the night before, so I'm hoping this gives me a nice jolt. For those of you keeping track at home, the only thing in my belly is Mountain Dew and grapefruit juice. Mostly just Mountain Dew.
Oh, good Lord. I have to run a news meeting every day, and I am talking so fast that the people around me are starting to genuinely look concerned. I keep scraping my tongue along the roof of my mouth because it's all weird and dry. Also, my teeth feel weirdly fuzzy, like they're going to shake out of my skull. I'm not sure if this is all just psychosomatic or there's something mind-numbing in the dye they put in this stuff, but I do know that I keep trying to write "since" and keep spelling out "nices" instead, WHY.
My friend Brendan emails me. The subject line is merely, "STOP DRINKING MOUNTAIN DEW." I stare at my phone, then wildly around me, briefly fancying that I've somehow been livestreaming this via Photobooth. Nope, he's just on my Twitter.
I skip lunch. I'm on a roll! I can't be tamed!
I make a really stupid work-related mistake and cast myself into a pit of shame. I instant message my boss explaining the whole soda-consumption-making-it-hard-to-emotionally-deal-with-obstacles situation. She simply responds, "lol."
It is my friend Ella's birthday. When she comes over for a hug, I make a face at her that feels like a smile to me but for some reason compels her to physically takes a step backward. I realize that I am hunched protectively over the remaining Dew in the bottle like Gollum over the One Ring to Rule them All. I chug it down, staring at her challengingly. I'm the Dew Alpha now.
The afternoon slump comes and goes, and I am unaffected. I finally cram a handful of tortilla chips in my mouth, but keep working.
I get into a shouting match with a man at a gay sports bar with regard to whether my favorite player on the Chicago Blackhawks is a weenie. This is odd, because I do not dispute this fact at all and am largely unlikely to fight strangers about it, except in jest. None of my "teasing faces" are landing quite right, though, and this dude seems to be getting madder and madder. At this point, I'm not sure if it's the Dew talking or not, but I'm still a little trembly, and my half of one beer is making me feel like I'm going to barf everywhere. I eat a bunch of french fries to try to placate the remaining soda dragon and edge into a corner, wondering if I've turned into a pod person.
My friend makes me a mixed drink with what looks like grapefruit juice. I try not to recoil. The body remembers.
I wake up angry and hungover to successfully purchase Comic-Con passes. To celebrate, I drink half a Mountain Dew CODE RED with some questionable leftover Naked Juice and fall back into a fitful sleep.
When I wake up again my hangover's somehow gotten worse. I chalk it up to the sugar headache from the CODE RED, but the carbonation settles my stomach so I drink the rest. It's a different friend's birthday brunch and I power-walk the two miles there, squinting and feeling like I want to punch the world in the face.
At brunch, I swing wildly between saccharine charm and hair-tearing surliness. When I finally leave to go rescue a lost friend from the downtown San Francisco labyrinth, I viciously think that the sun is too bright for this goddamned February to call itself a winter.
I wake up with the fucking flu.
Kate occasionally tweets while drinking Mountain Dew and shuddering like a baby bird: @katchatters