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OP-ED: I Can’t Drink Coke Anymore Without Tasting Bottom-Shelf Vodka


Photo by Mike Mozart / CC by 2.0

When I was young, I remember when I used to crack open a can of Coke with my pop. Sitting together on the old porch swing in front of our home in rural Kansas, there was nothing better than the feeling of ice cold soda sliding down the hatch. You could say that Coca Cola was my childhood. I couldn’t help but also get a whiff of my father’s elderberry and birch shaving cream, as it became mingled in with every sip of that cinnamon and vanilla taste. Whenever I was nursing a can of Coke, if I just closed my eyes, I could almost feel the touch of my dad’s arm on my shoulder and the blood-red sun dipping beneath the Kansas horizon. 

Then I went to Penn. 

The sweet, idyllic taste of my childhood has now been tainted with the harsh, nauseating taste of hand sanitizer. For years a double shot of Barton vodka mixed with a healthy serving of Coca Cola did the trick for me at many a BYO, frat party, and mixer. But now the mistakes of my past have at last caught up with me: Barton haunts my every sip of Coke. Fuck Kansas and Pop: the only father I know now is Vladimir, and he is no gentle master. 

Ever since, I don’t even need to drink actual alcohol to start feeling a little tipsy. One can of Coke gets me over the edge. While I can’t be sure that my housemates aren’t secretly Barton-izing my Coke supply, what I can confirm is that I’ve definitely saved a lot of money on alc. Now, all that money I spent on White Claw and Svedka can go to a much better cause — namely, towards my coke fund.