February 19th, 2008


My name is Janet and I’m a caffeine addict. Worse, my preferred method of ingestion, since I can’t stand the taste of coffee, is Coke, which means I am also a sugar addict. Some alcoholics are regulars at their local bar; me, I’m a regular at 7-Eleven. Like many addicts, I have, from time to time, temporarily kicked the habit, only to allow it to creep back in.

I have rationalized. Coke is easier to come by than enough sleep. I could have some seriously bad habit, like shooting heroin. I deserve a little brown bubbly pleasure. It’s perfectly legal and even kids drink the stuff!

This has become more and more like sticking my fingers in my ears and yelling, “Lalalalalalala!” I have a weight problem. I have a sleep problem. I have a stress problem. I worry about Type 2 Diabetes. I worry about globalization, cultural destruction, and high-fructose corn syrup.

I worry about my immortal soul.

Yesterday afternoon, Brent and I were walking back from the meat market where we buy our grass-fed beef. We decided to get a movie to watch. (Monday is our date night and we had considered going to see the director’s cut of Blade Runner at the Castro. Instead, we rented it and postponed the date until tonight, when we will go zydeco dancing.) At every corner, there are choices and we chose the route to the video store that we don’t normally take. Suddenly, there were three men yelling and running toward us. Two of them, managers at the local grocery store, were chasing the other because he had stolen a bottle of tequila. They chased him down and he ended up slammed into the frame of a garage door. He cut his forehead open. He fell back, hitting his head on the concrete sidewalk. He was dazed and bleeding. There were cops and firefighters, handcuffs and bandages. And a bottle of tequila in the street. One of the managers made the comment that the man was drunk. His addiction led him to this place.

So. Yesterday I drank my last Coke.

Cold turkey is not a good thing. I have done that and it involves throwing up. It means that I am too incredibly sick and achy to get off the couch. If I have to get off the couch under those circumstances, I am, shall I say, not Miss Congeniality. More like a bear just wakened from hibernation early.

I can’t taper off my Coke drinking. I simply lack the character to do it. If there is Coke in the fridge, I will drink it. All of it.

The solution to this dilemma is not a pretty one or a good one, but it does, eventually, work. It is called Excedrin. Excedrin contains enough caffeine to make my teeth stop hurting, enough to make me stop wishing my head would just get on with it and explode. It comes in handy even doses that can be fractioned as I slowly wean myself from the drug. It tides me over while I adjust to the sudden decrease in my sugar intake.

I am one of the lucky ones. I can choose. I have support. I don’t have to go to jail. I am not bleeding.

Except maybe my heart.