Normally, I think that odes to food and drink are creepy and cliché. I get it. Doughnuts have the power to change people’s lives, and a good chicken wing is proof that Belinda Carlisle was right—heaven is a place on earth. That doesn’t mean we need to write ridiculous articles that sound like creepy wedding vows.
But you don’t understand what it is about Diet Dr. Pepper and me.
This article, I hope, won’t sound a thing like creepy wedding vows. I don’t plan to quote “Jerry Maguire” or anything like that. I just want to share how a caffeinated, carbonated beverage got me through my senior year of college because without it, I don’t think I’d even be a functional human being, much less a successful one. So, sit back and crack open your beverage of choice for this one. Just don’t make it a Diet Dr. Pepper. Those are all for me.
Dear Diet Dr. Pepper,
Ours is still a fairly new love. You came into my life in between my junior and senior years at Michigan when I had recently discovered that my ex, Diet Coke, tasted like soap. Besides, who thought it would be a good idea to sell it in a gray wrapper? That’s one of two mistakes that Coca-Cola ever made, the other mistake being, of course, the introduction of New Coke. It was at a Sonic drive-in that we first became acquainted. My mother asked me if I wanted the rest of what was in her Styrofoam cup, and I accepted. Suddenly, I was hooked. You were all the calories of water with all the flavor (and caffeine) of your “regular” counterpart. Diet Coke really didn’t have a thing on you. That was the day Diet Coke and I broke up, even though I still visit it occasionally when the restaurant thinks it’s too good to carry you on the menu. You’re a rare bird, just like me.
I’ve gone to some extreme lengths to procure you. Of course, that all depends on your definition of extreme, but mine is driving seven miles out of the way just to go to a Noodles and Company to have you with dinner. They were all out of you that day. It was almost a full year ago, and I’m still not over it. And though they tried like hell to keep us apart, they couldn’t succeed. Once I got back to school in the fall, I discovered that they carried you in the fridge.
I took you to class with me on nearly a daily basis. Together, we sat through lectures on feminist theory and Toni Morrison. You encouraged me to reread Stoker’s “Dracula” for the ninety-seventh time, and you got me through my twenty-five-page paper on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and the Victorian Gothic. You and I both know that twenty-five pages was too few for that idea, but together, we stayed up all hours of the night, cutting it down. I couldn’t have done it without you.
We moved into the winter semester together, and you were there for me. You gave me something to look forward to after those grueling science lectures and labs that I needed to graduate. You gave me the energy to do pretty well in that class from hell. I say it happened by the grace of God, but you were my God-given nectar as I tried to memorize innocuous facts about the solar system and igneous rocks. Sometimes (but not always, for fear I'd smear my perfect lipstick), I’d take you into my favorite class, and you’d help me to conceal my girlish smiles in sips. I turned to you when I was afraid I’d make a face at someone’s pretentious comments about science fiction and horror. You were there for me all the way. We make a great team.
And then, one day, in the middle of April, it was time for us to depart the college years, like the end of a television series that jumped the shark four years earlier but stayed on the air for no good reason. When I bought you for the last time as an undergraduate student, I was on my way to a lecture that I knew would break my heart, and I needed you for support. You were there. You were there through the lecture. You were there when I was stood up an hour and a half later. I could depend on no man, but I could depend on you.
I took your picture on your last day as an undergraduate beverage. You looked beautiful. Here, I’m including the photographic evidence of your beauty.
Diet Dr. Pepper, our days together have not ended merely because I have graduated from the University of Michigan. I still have six to eight more years of graduate school, starting in the fall. We’ll be together through it all. After all, my new university carries you in its refrigerators and vending machines.
P.S. Okay, maybe this was a bit of a creepy ode.