I don’t drink coffee but I’m not naturally perky. I’m not even unnaturally perky; in fact, I really don’t do perky at all. In order to get through the day, I lean on diet caffeinated beverages and consume them at an alarming rate. This used to mean any available dark diet beverage: Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, or Diet Dr. Pepper. However, since Coke Zero came on the market in 2005, my loyalty has been pretty clear.
It’s not culturally acceptable, at least not in the Northeast [Editor’s note: snarky aside about superiority of culture in the Northeast redacted] to drink diet soda at 7:30 AM, so I’m often on the defensive about it. “No, I don’t drink coffee. Nope, just don’t like the taste. Yeah, no, not even with a lot of milk and sugar. Oh? Cappuccino? What a clever idea! Because when I said I didn’t like the taste of coffee, I meant, maybe if I try it with foam and triple the price, it’ll be delicious!”
If all of the recent articles on the dangers of diet sodas are true, then I’m a ticking time bomb because I easily consume 3-7 cans/bottles of Coke Zero a day. I don’t have a history with drug use, as I wasn’t even cool enough to be offered drugs in high school or college. All the cool kids basically “just said no” to me. Without that knowledge to draw from, I can’t really be sure that my relationship with Coke Zero has reached addiction levels, but it’s definitely close. I get cravings, I need it to start my day, and I make excuses for why more Coke Zero is needed in my life. If I’m not dressed and have no reason to leave my apartment, I will put pants on just to get a fix. I have put conference calls on hold just so I could run, grab another Coke Zero, and rejoin the meeting refreshed. I have harassed the restocker from Jade’s Vending Company to get more Coke Zero put in the machine and have lobbied the hotel I frequent most often on business to begin serving it. And now they do.
The definition of obsess is “to preoccupy or fill the mind continuously, intrusively or a to troubling extent.” So while my consumption levels may make me borderline addicted, it’s really my behavior and thought processes that determine whether or not I’m obsessed with Coke Zero. With that in mind, there’s only one piece of evidence that matters: I routinely agree with or respond to the questions by Coke Zero on their Facebook page.
When Coke Zero posts things like this on Facebook: “LIKE” this if you’d bike over 2,000 miles across France if you knew there was Coke Zero at the end,” I like it. When Coke Zero says: “Today’s Work-a-holics Day. So demand a Coke Zero vending machine next to your desk. You deserve it.” I actually comment: “If I had a Coke Zero vending machine next to my desk, I wouldn’t get any exercise! Ha ha!”
Seriously, rereading that now, I’m overwhelmed with shame and yet still have an open 20 oz bottle of Coke Zero sitting next to me.
Ironically, Coke Zero’s target is 18-35-year-old men who shun the diet beverage market. They figured that men would be more comfortable with a black can, fantasy sports sponsorships, and no use of the word “diet.” So while I pursue Coke Zero like a crazed Justin Bieber fan, Coke Zero would prefer to chillax with a Madden-playing ‘bro. It looks like even now I’m not cool enough for my addictive substance of choice.