As you may know, I adore Diet Coke but recently decided to go cold turkey because I am trying to eat "clean," and there's not much point in eating clean while drinking chemicals. My last Diet Coke was on December 30 --
-- until last Tuesday. I was the first one in the office after the long holiday weekend and I went into our little storage room to put my lunch in the fridge. It tends to collect abandoned leftovers, as shared fridges do, and once in a while someone will get all pissed off about the state of the fridge, toss everything in it and dash off a testy email to All Staff urging us to clean up after ourselves. (Easy, now...)
Anyway, someone cleared out the fridge over the holiday weekend, and when I opened the door on Tuesday morning there was just one thing in it: a single, perfect Diet Coke. It was right in the middle of the fridge, artificial light bouncing off its dewy, silver skin almost like a halo, and the angels sang "aaaahhhhhhh!!!!!"
I took it as a sign. You see, for about a week I had been literally dreaming of Diet Coke. The spicy flavor, the exuberant fizz. The refreshment! It was the first thing I thought about in the morning and the last thing I thought about as I drifted off to sleep, and when I confessed this to my therapist, she very wisely suggested that it might be better to just drink one than obsess about it.
She asked, "What would happen if you drank a Diet Coke?" Well, I'd break my resolution, for one thing. I might experience the side effects I now attribute to aspartame, blurry vision being the most worrisome. I might not like it anymore?? I might not be able to stop at one! On the way home from that appointment I stopped at the supermarket and bought a six-pack of those cute little half-size cans, thinking I'd put them in the back of the fridge for "emergencies" and even if I drank the whole thing it would only be the equivalent of three cans (for my perfect Diet Coke must be in cans -- the plastic-bottled stuff doesn't taste the same and don't even get me started on fountain drinks).
But I didn't even have a chance to build up to an "emergency" followed by the ceremonial plucking of a pony can from its six-pack bonds, because someone cleaned out the office fridge and inadvertently left me a sign from God.
So I drank it. I popped the top, breathed in that first spicy whiff of effervescence, and tipped the frosty can to my parched lips. Oh. My. Sigh. It was good. And then it was gone.
Did the worst case scenario materialize? Of course not. And frankly, one Diet Coke per month is probably a reasonable way to enjoy my old friend.
I marked my calendar and tried to forget about it.