Me Vs. Soda

On December 24, 2008, I decided that I was giving up soda. I drank it way too often, and the benefits (refreshing! awakening! taste!) were overwhelmed by the negatives (liquid crap into the body). For the ensuing two months, after averaging about 1 1/2 sodas per day, I stopped.

Then, today, I had a Coke.

However, I’m not upset. In fact, I ask you to step into my shoes.

I’m in Tennessee, doing a story about the coal ash spill that took place in a small town outside of Knoxville called Harriman. This afternoon I was fortunate enough to find a nice couple who agreed to show me around; talk about the disaster; etc. For about six hours, they drove me into the heart of the devastation—a beautiful rural community now buried in black mounds of crap. According to environmental groups, the air is suspect; the water even more suspect. Different chemicals and metals have infiltrated the streams and lakes, creating a potentially toxic brew.

Enter: Soda.

While the couple that showed me around is very angry at the government for allowing this to happen, they (naively, I think) do not fear the water. So when I arrived at their house, they offered me a prepared lunch (a ham-and-cheese sandwich with two pickle slices and chips. Very nice and kind. But the dialogue went like this: Woman: “I hope you like ham.” Me: “Yeah, uh, yeah.” Woman: “Is something wrong?” Me: “Uh, well.” Woman: “Are you a vegetarian?” Me: “No, but I’m Jewish. I don’t eat pork.” Man: “But that’s ham.”) and a drink. “We have water and soda,” the woman said. “What can I get you?”

Again, you’re me. Here’s the choice:

A. Metal-laced water.

B. Denied soda.

I had the Coke. And a cheese sandwich.


On a serious note, these are wonderful people who have been unfairly destroyed. The day was actually an excellent reminder of how, politically speaking, I can sure be an anus. These were die-hard Republicans who owned more than 200 guns, belonged to the NRA, surely believe in pro-life and anti-gay marriage. They were sheltered, not overly curious … and wonderful. Living in New York, it’s easy to forget that decent people exist who share none of your values.