Thank God for the food cart guy on the corner who sells cans of Diet Coke for a dollar. Everybody else in the office loves to sneak off to Starbucks to cavort with four-dollar gourmet coffees, but all I ever want is to hand over my buck to the Indian guy and feel that ice cold can of Diet Coke in my hands.
I think they call this addiction. I prefer to call it regularly occurring appreciation. But I digress.
This food cart guy always gives out straws with his cans of soda. Being from the Midwest, I have this ingrained habit of not saying to Indian Food Cart Guy, "Oh, sorry, I don't really need this." Instead I quietly take the straw with my soda and then toss it in the garbage later.
This straw routine has been going on for a few weeks now, and this morning I finally gave the straw some philosophical contemplation. ("Straw, why art thou with my delicious 12 ounces of Diet Coke?") I hypothesized that straws are perhaps given with sodas because maybe they think you're afraid the tops of the cans are dirty and using a straw sidesteps that whole OCD issue.
But then, eureka! Like a movie flashback, my dentist appears in my mind and says, "Josh, don't drink that soda. It'll stain your teeth. You want your teeth to stay white, don't you?" He says this very sternly, of course.
But the straw! See, you could bypass the whole soda-getting-on-your-teeth-and-staining-them thing if you use a straw. The straw allows you to consume the evil Diet Coke without the brown liquid ever touching your teeth.
Grinning at my ingeniousness, I returned to my desk at work, popped the top on my D.C., and stuck in the straw. Finally, a use for this thing! If only Indian Food Cart Guy could see me now, and my dentist, too!
Then one of my co-workers walked by. I was sipping my Diet Coke through my straw as she passed, and seconds later she slowly walked back to my desk. I looked up at her, and realized I was being examined. My eyes grew wide and I set down my soda with a guilty half-smile.
"Uhm, are you drinking that can of Diet Coke with a straw?"
I swallowed loudly. "Yes." Then the excuses began. "You see, my dentist said that--"
"Josh, a straw with Diet Coke? Really? What, are you Alicia Silverstone in Clueless?"
"But my teeth, can't I just use it to--"
She solemnly shook her head no. I sighed. I took the straw out of the can and tossed it in the garbage.
"Good boy," she said, tapping my desk twice and smiling before walking away.
Being caught drinking a soda with a straw is sort of like being caught plucking your eyebrows in the men's locker room after a workout. It's just--you know, how do you explain that?
Tomorrow I'm telling the Indian Food Cart Guy that the straws will no longer be necessary. Thanks, but no thanks.
But I'll still take that Diet Coke.