Friday, March 19, 2010

Snapple does math

I gave up pop for lent.  Since  February 17th, I've not had a single carbonated beverage.  My work has fridges stocked to the brim with free pop, so this has been quite a challenge for me these past 30 days.  16 days to go.  Not that I'm complaining... I went from 3-4 cans of pop a day (plus who knows how much from the fountain at Chipotle) to nothing.  A co-worker today told me he's taken on the same endeavor.

I had dinner with my family last night since my sister is in town.  My mom knew immediately - she's probably never in the past 26 years seen me at a restaurant where I didn't order a pop.  Since age 5, I've been hooked.  Five was when I tasted a can of Tab for the first time.  The crack-fizz of a can opening is perhaps the most effective advertising in the known universe.

One of the strange side effects has been that I started drinking tea.  I've never liked iced tea. When I've given up pop in the past, it's been replaced by mass quantities of lemonade.  Really, I know it's H2O that I should be drinking - and I have been - but surprisingly tea has been my #1 choice this go-around.  I attribute it to the fact that I switched to diet pop a couple of years ago, and my sweet tooth has diminished because of it.  Tea has gone from tolerable, to somewhat enjoyable to me now.

Anyway, my work offers free Snapple too, and on the inside of one of the Snapple caps today was this:
111,111,111 * 111,111,111 = 12345678987654321.  I thought that was pretty spiffy.  I haven't decided if I'm going back to drinking pop after Easter.  I might miss out on some useless trivia on the inside of those caps.  Ahhh... Addiction.  Habits.  Routine.  Even when I break free of one, I succumb to another.

There's a scene from The Devil Wears Prada.  Yes, I'm admitting to having seen it - shut up.  The protagonist, Andy, has no interest at all in fashion or the fashion world.  But, through a series of only-in-a-movie circumstances, she has somehow landed in the middle of the fashion universe with a dream (well, nightmare actually) job.  She has the following interaction with her boss, Miranda, who is the 'Devil' from the title:
[Miranda and some assistants are deciding between two similar belts for an outfit. Andy sniggers because she thinks they look exactly the same]

Miranda Priestly: Something funny?

Andy Sachs: No, no, nothing. Y'know, it's just that both those belts look exactly the same to me. Y'know, I'm still learning about all this stuff.

Miranda Priestly: This... 'stuff'? Oh... ok. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select out, oh I don't know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue, it's not turquoise, it's not lapis, it's actually cerulean. You're also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar De La Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St Laurent, wasn't it, who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of 8 different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic casual corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it's sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of stuff.

I try to be really conscious of consumerism.  When the kids see an ad on TV, they are transfixed, and Beth and I try to pry them back to reality by asking, "What are they trying to get you to buy?" or "What are they trying to get you to do?" or my favorite - "What are they trying to make you believe?".  Their answers aren't very sophisticated yet, but my own answers are when I ask myself these questions.  I sound so immune from consumerism in the conversations in my own head.  But there's this other part of me that wonders about that jingle I keep humming, or the way that the crack-fizz makes me salivate like a Pavlovian K-9, or the way I ritually turn over my Snapple caps.  Am I really free?  The math just doesn't quite add up...