Fountain. Bottle. Can. In that order.

I hardly ever drink out of a can anymore unless I’m desperate. I can tell you which local restaurants have the best fountain Coke (and the very best places get bonus points for having pellet ice over which to pour it). I can tell you all of the places that now have the abomination that is the “freestyle” machine, which makes regular Coke taste like a terrible concoction of Coke, lemon, and cherry syrup. And most of the time, because it’s the best combination of flavor and cost-effectiveness, I buy the six-packs of plastic bottles in massive quantities when they go on sale at Food Lion.

At least since college, Coke has been my morning drink of choice (and, when things are really bad, also my afternoon and evening drink of choice). I’ve never been a coffee drinker and don’t like hot beverages in the morning.

No, what I love first thing in the morning (and many other times during the day) is the perfect combination of super-fizzy burn and syrupy sweetness that is a full-octane Coke. And I like it extra cold. Stick it in the freezer for about 20 minutes, and there’s just about nothing better.

I know it sounds crazy, but Coke is like comfort food for me. I’ll often choose it over a glass of wine or even a really tasty dessert. I look forward to when I can drink it. I want to drink it even when I don’t want to drink it. Even when my tastebuds are saying, “Yuck. We’ve had enough of that for now,” my brain is still saying, “DRINK IT! DRINK IT! YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT!”

I don’t care that it’s full of high-fructose corn syrup and who knows what else that is probably bad for me. I mean, I care, but apparently, I don’t care enough to stop drinking it. I’ve tried, many times, to quit for good. I’ve probably gone as long as a few months before some major crisis occurs in my life, and I pick it up again. I’ve tried all kinds of tricks to moderate it—drink it only on the weekends, drink it only at breakfast, drink it only at lunch, drink it only when I’m out, drink it only with certain salty meals that are just begging for a Coke to go along with them. Right now, I’m trying to limit myself to one a day, but that’s the hard part about buying the bottles in bulk to save money—it means there’s always one in the fridge, begging me to drink it.

I’m embarrassed by my habit. I always felt a little ashamed walking through the law school where I used to teach with a soda in my hands, when probably 75% of the students were drinking water out of their hipster stainless steel water bottles. I’m often surprised when I go to other people’s homes and find that they keep a supply, too, because I imagine it’s something other adults would never do. I do hope to quit altogether before my kids get old enough to start asking for it and get hooked on it themselves.

And I often think that my Coke habit may ultimately kill me—my mother died of pancreatic cancer, and I know that at a minimum, I am working my pancreas like a dog whenever I drink the stuff. But on the other hand, in the grand scheme of things that are bad for me, this is probably low on the list.

Maybe I’ll try to go cold turkey again soon. Just not until next week.

What’s your worst relatively harmless vice?


“Coca-Cola is the favorite drink for ladies when thirsty + weary + despondent.”