I'm in the market for a soft drink. It's a nice day, I'm out having fun, and my thirst is the kind that water simply cannot remedy. A nice bottle of soda pop is just what I need.
There are a lot of different soft drinks to choose from, so I will have to first pick what flavor I want. Colas and root beers seem a little heavy for a warm day like this, so I'm going to eliminate those first.
There seems to be a flavor of soft drink called "doctor." It's not a cola or root beer, nor is it a fruit flavor. I'm not really sure what it is, but there are at least three different doctor brands: Dr. Pepper, Dr. Thunder and Dr. Chill. There is another similar-tasting soft drink called Mr. Pibb, which apparently doesn't have its PhD yet.
Most fruit-flavored soft drinks, like grape and orange, are just as heavy as colas and root beers. I think what I want is a clear, refreshing, potentially lemon-lime flavored soda pop. Now all I have to do is sort through the brands: Mountain Dew, Mellow Yellow, 7-Up and Sprite.
If I went to a grocery store, I could buy a bargain brand that doesn't advertise, like Shasta Moon Mist. Because Shasta doesn't have enough of a price mark-up to be sold at convenience stores, however, I will have to buy a heavily marketed brand.
Besides, Shasta doesn't come in bottles, and I don't want my soft drink in a can. I want my soft drink in a long, 16-ounce glass bottle like "Mean" Joe Greene used to drink before tossing me his sweaty jersey in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, nobody makes those bottles anymore.
When I was in Seattle, about ten years ago, I found a soft-drink vending machine that had the usual assortment of brands available, plus one "chance" option. That's right, the machine would randomly pick a soda for the customer.
I wish I had the "chance" option more often in life. I don't like picking things out of simulated police lineups, based on looks and advertising campaigns alone. I want my soft drink to step forward and say, "My name is black cherry spritzer, and I'm just what you've been looking for."
Paul Lundgren is a newspaper columnist and a very nice man. His e-mail address is paul [at] geekprom.com.