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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

It's a repeat of the real thing

Here's a piece I wrote for an old blog I used to have. It's been a couple of years now, so I'm guessing most readers won't have read it (since that blog no longer exists). If you have, my apologies, but I really like what I wrote, and I've been dying to share it again.

The other day, I was craving a Coke. This in itself is not unusual -- I drink three or four cans a day while at work, more if I'm in the mood. However, in this case I was craving a Coke because my tummy was a little upset (which is unusual, since it's been referred to as "cast iron" by those around me since I was a wee lad), and I was thinking that, maybe, a cool, fizzy Coke would be just the thing. Unfortunately, it was late at night, I was in the middle of unloading the dishwasher, and I couldn't justify going out to the store just because my tummy felt funny. I figured I could just sleep it off, and wake up fine in the morning (which is what I did, with the expected results -- cast iron stomachs are great). However, craving a swig from the shiny red can put me in mind of what I like to think of as my Favourite Coke Moment.

Once upon a time, my basement flooded. It had rained really, really, really hard, and for some reason, this meant that my always-dry basement filled up with a half foot of water from the sewers! Yes, indeed, I watched in horror as the toilet in the basement bathroom and the floor drain in the laundry room worked in reverse, regurgitating brackish water and waterlogged bits of leaves and twigs. Somehow, the rain had got into the sewers, and backed up into my basement. (To be fair, the rainwater also backed up into lots of other people basements, but fer cryin' out loud, this was my basement. Apparently, this is more common than one would suspect, although it had never happened to me before.)

Anyway, to make a long story short, I started cleaning up. First with the shopvac and a submersible pool pump, later with a mop, and later still with disinfectant for every surface that got sewer-contaminated water on it, I cleaned like a fiend. Actually, it was a bit more like a robot. I wasn't frantic, just methodical, plodding along, one step after another until the job was done. Clean-up started around two in the afternoon. I finally stopped to go to the Swish store for some industrial deodorizer around noon. The next day. Uh-huh. 22 hours, pretty much non-stop.

For the entire time, I had forgotten to consume any food or beverage. Not a drop to drink, aside from the sweat I licked off my upper lip. This, folks, is called irony, embodied by the classic quote, "water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink." (Incidentally, I spent much of that time with a single song running through my head. I was fortunate in that it wasn't some annoying spit of pop drivel, but was instead what I have come to consider one of my all-time favourite songs: Wicked and Weird by Buck 65. I didn't know all the lyrics at the time, but I had fun trying to figure them out while I worked.)

So, twenty-two hours of constant labour with nothing to eat or drink. Not to mention the fact that I was about thirteen hours past my bedtime. Well, here's where the Coke Moment comes in. I pulled into the Swish parking lot, and there in front of the entrance was, you guessed it, a Coke machine. I looked at the price, shading the pathetic red LED display against the bright, harsh noonday sun, and saw $2.00. Two bucks a bottle. (I suppose it might have been cooler if it had said $1.65, but this is a true story, not a fairy tale.) For a moment, I felt near panic, wondering if I had the change. Fumbling through my pocket, my hand clumsily withdrew an assortment of small coinage. Trying hard to remember how to count, I experienced a moment of pure anticipatory pleasure as I squinted at a loonie, three quarters, two dimes and a nickle -- and not much else besides pennies. Whew!

Okay, so I knew a Coke would go down pretty good right about then, but really, I had no idea. Money in, a bottle comes out. Twist off the cap, and I stood there on the sun-baked stretch of asphalt. Head tilted back, bottle to my lips. I chugged. I felt the cold acid burn, welcome and familiar on the back of my throat. But more than that, I felt... better. Much better. Better than I figured I could ever feel. If epiphanies can be physical, this was one. Relaxation and relief spread across my shoulders, down my back, out to my fingers, and down to my feet. Oh. Wow.

That $2.00 plastic bottle of Coca-Cola, there in the hot Swish parking lot, twenty-two hours of constant labour after the flood -- that was my Favourite Coke Moment.

So now, I'm hoping that others will chip in. If you read this, leave me a comment. I'd love to hear your Favourite Coke Moment. Thanks.



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