Requiem for a Beverage
Baby, I can't tell you what to do or what to say,
I lost my head the day they took my Vanilla Coke away.
Granted, I was not an instant convert. Though I'd anticipated its arrival since the days of ordering vanilla Cokes at the original Ruby's on the Balboa pier, I professed huge disappointment after my first bottle of Coke's own brew, but since they'd combined two of my favorite flavors (or flavours, if you are from Canada or England), I kept at it, repeatedly slamming cans and bottles until the now-legendary Vanilla Coke (or "Van Coke" for short) replaced Cherry Coke as my guilty pleasure of choice.
And then they took it away.
I heard it first from Angela, the amazingly cheerful office manager at work. Given her preternatural ability to feel compassion, it was unsurprising that delivering this bad news brought her almost to tears. After all, she had actually ordered a special 6-pack of Van Coke for the month before. To the other realtors, it sat unnoticed among the stacks of regular Coke in the Zephyr Real Estate lunch room refrigerator. For me, it was a special add to my work day and a sign of Angela's overwhelming worth to the world of Zephyr Real Estate. And how she was giving me the real deal: No more Van Coke as of January 1. Coke was phasing it out.
I savored those last cans of Van Coke, but never went as far as to hoard the stuff. I knew that I would never hear the end of it from S. Bullock if I were to suddenly show up with cases of Van Coke, like some ironically caffeine-addicted Mormon stocking up for Judgement Day. Instead, I planned to cut out Coke entirely, then thought I might just switch back to regular Coke.
As crustaceans know they must evolve or die, so do drinkers of Vanilla Coke. January 1 came and went. The few leftover cans and bottles of liquid gold soon disappeared from convenience and liquor store shelves. By the end of January, there simply was no Van Coke in the city. None.
Enter Black Cherry Vanilla Coke. As a forward-thinking beverage drinker, I eagerly snapped up a refrigerator pack. I've always prided myself on carbonated beverage open-mindedness. Several years ago, I remember buying a Dr. Pepper at a store in Santa Cruz, and the clerk asking me if I was a Pepper. "Not really," I replied. "I drink it sometimes, but not exclusively."
In fact, I've enjoyed Dr. Pepper, Mr. Pibb, all kinds of Coke, 7-Up, Sprite and Slice, Welch's Grape, Fanta, even Nee-Hi and Cragmont Black Cherry. I've got a sixer of Dr. Brown's cream in the downstairs refrigerator right now. Give me anything but Mtn. Dew or that stuff with the grapefruit in it from teh 1970s -- Fresca? And no diet, please. Give me the sugar. I promise I'll limit myself to 12 oz. a day.
And now, Black Cherry Vanilla Coke. Ungainly name, unimpressive taste. Not all that different from regular old Cherry Coke. Certainly not an adequate replacement for Vanilla Coke. And so I suffer.