Dear Dr Pepper…

Hello, my old friend.
Hello, my old friend.

Dear Dr Pepper,

This is a hard letter to write, but–to be honest–it has been a long time in coming.

Let me be upfront: I think we’ve been seeing too much of each other, and I want to spend some time apart. Well, I suppose it isn’t so much that we’ve been seeing too much of each other… More that I’ve been seeing too much of me. You catch my drift, right? Yeah–I knew you would.

Actually, you’ve always been understanding and ready to please. After a hard day, there you’ve been waiting: keeping calm and cool and ready to help me take a load off. On all my long drives, who’s been there to help? You were. A little sugar, a little caffeine, and 12 oz of liquid companionship. Sure there have been times when you haven’t been there, but often that wasn’t even your fault. How many times have I asked for you in some restaurant only to be told that Mr. Pibb would be coming by instead. (He’s always been jealous of you, I know… And look at him: So envious of the PhD you have that he could never earn!) Those times aside, whenever I called, if it was within your power, you came running. Thanks for your faithfulness, my friend.

But there comes a time when we have to part ways, and I’m afraid that time has come.

No, no… Don’t try to talk me out of it, Dr Pepper. No, this isn’t just some “lame New Year’s resolution.” You know I don’t observe New Year’s and I don’t do resolutions. Don’t insult me by pretending you don’t know me better than that–we’ve spent way too much time together over the last two decades for such things like that to be a mystery anymore. The plain truth is that we ran out of you in the fridge and it’s time to make up my mind: buy more of you or finally turn down a different path. And right now, that path is calling.

What? Is it the high fructose corn syrup, you ask? Well, that does have something to do with it, perhaps. I know that isn’t your best quality. Recent studies don’t have the most pleasant things to say about your fructose and its relationship to the nation’s waistlines. But if friends can’t look over a few personality defects here and there, what good are they?

Sorry -- it's more than your HFCS...
Sorry — it’s more than your HFCS…

…No, seriously, I know you can change–that isn’t going to make a difference, I’m afraid. Whether its pure cane sugar or corn syrup, my mind is completely made up. The fact is that chugging down sugary syrup–regardless of the kind of “sugary” being chugged–just isn’t in my best interest right now. Nor is it in my family’s best interest for me to continue doing so. It’s time for me to move on. What? Oh, no–no way… Frankly, I find Diet You just a bit spooky–sort of like the new “TEN” You. Not only do I not trust how you make those so sweet, but I suspect that they would just be “gateway drinks” to plain old sugary you.

Yes, yes… Of course I still love Texas… No, I’m not going to be seeing Big Red behind your back. The call of the Lone Star State isn’t enough to keep me from making up my mind. They have just plain water in Texas, too…

I know — we really have shared some good times. Remember the giant “penny bank” my family used to put their pennies in that was shaped like a bottle with your name on it? Remember the visit to your museum back when my Beautiful Wife’s cousin worked there? And then afterward, when we went to the Mr. Pibb museum? (Ha, ha! Yeah, I know… There is no Mr. Pibb museum. I always thought that was a funny one, too.) Remember those years in my 20s, when you and I were teaching calculus together? My students got so used to seeing you up there that one bought us that 24-pack one time as a surprise present to concede our running argument–remember that? Man, that was funny. Then there was that time I gave you as a gift to Mr. Christal, since he worked for Coca-Cola? Ha! Remember how Jay and I would take a break at the office in Plano to go downstairs and visit you? Ooooo–and that time when my friend was invited to be part of a marketing test group when they were designing your new look? And–wow–could we even count the number of times you and I stayed up working on telecast scripts together? Good times…

But things change, Dr Pepper, and we have to change with them. Life continues forward and asks different things of us. You know my family history: Heart troubles, adult onset diabetes… I’ve got every reason to leave you behind, and nary a reason to stay–reasons that include my Beautiful Wife and The Four Boys. (What? Well, yes, I’m sure real people do use “nary” these days. Don’t get me distracted…) And, frankly, my friend, I’m supposed to consider my body to be the temple of God’s spirit, and for too long I have been painting the walls with a thick layer of sugary goodness. God’s temple deserves better.

Sorry, what was that? Moderation? Oh, come on, DP, you know me. I’ve thought about that, and it would be nice if it could work. But it doesn’t. “Moderation” is what my Jeremiah 17:9 heart always whispers, but the results are always the same. If I’m going to move on I’m going to have to go cold turkey. You go your way and I go mine. No, I don’t plan to write. No, I’m not going to text. No, you know I don’t even go onto Facebook that much.

You know, as we wrap things up here, Dr Pepper, I have to say that you’re taking things better than I thought you might. I thought you were crying there for a while, but I realized it was just condensation. And I’m glad. I’d rather end things in a friendly way than with some sort of dramatic scene where you “lose it.” (Remember that Coke that Aunt Kay left in the freezer down in Waco? That wasn’t pretty.) Let’s just remember the good times and look to the future. Want to shake hands? Oh, yeah… sorry about that.

Sure, sure… We’ll probably meet again. When I’m where I want to be and I know that I am staying there, we may be able to get together every once in a while–maybe. I’ll reevaluate things then. But don’t get your hopes up. And, to be honest, we’re probably talking about a long time from now. Until then, make new friends! Talk to the other cans in the convenience store’s beverage section. Resolve your grudge with Coke and Pepsi. You never know–you might even become friends with Mr. Pibb if you tried hard enough. He really isn’t so bad when you get to know him. (Just a little defensive about the whole “advanced degree” thing.)

Warm regards,
Wallace Smith

16 thoughts on “Dear Dr Pepper…

  1. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    Awwwww, and Original Dr Pepper was the Official Beverage of Barack Obama’s Fantasy Presidential Inauguration too. :). Uh, period. 😉

  2. You had me laughing. I went through the same thing with candy bars. Pie is proving a little more difficult, however. What are you going to replace it with – Gatorade?

  3. D. Crockett

    WG, You are way too involved with your beverage of choice ! Just make the plunge, go cold turkey and chug filtered water. Then, there is that Southern favorite, iced tea (with out the sugar). It takes some getting used to, but it grows on you.

    Breaking up is hard to do, but there is liquid refreshment out there somewhere for you, if you will only look for it.

  4. Thanks, Mr. JDC! Actually, one of our teens here, Denin, gave me advice on that once. He said that he finds unsweetened iced tea more mentally bearable if he imagines that it is simply water with some flavor in it. I tried it a few times and it seemed to work! Just a helpful little brain hack… My wife has found water to be a lot more pleasing if she gets a bottle of fruit juice and just pours a touch in the water–not enough to flavor it much, but enough to make it seem like more than water. Regardless, I will be thinking of something… Thanks for the encouragement!

  5. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    What about that other Southern favorite, Southern Comfort? 🙂 Or if going cold turkey, why not go Wild Turkey too? 😀 Have you ever considered mead? 😉

  6. Thank you, Mrs. Dorothy, for the encouragement! And, Mr. Wheeler, I actually made a Wild Turkey crack as I was typing that post but edited it out on the fly as I was composing. Being someone who’s never had any hard liquor outside of some chocolate bourbon balls, I was afraid I had gotten the reference wrong. Thanks for taking up the slack. 🙂

  7. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    You should try some, of high quality and in small doses. If you like coffee, try Kahlua. 😀

  8. Don E.

    A healthier (not necessarily healthy) alternative, is Zevia:
    http://www.zevia.com/flavors
    15 different flavors (including Dr. Zevia)
    Recommended by a minister’s wife, the soda is flavored with a natural ingredient (Stevia) instead of sugar. Worth a try.

  9. Thanks, Don E., and I might do that sometime in the future! However, I suspect that the things in me I plan on tacking in this will likely just be fed by such a substitute, so I’ll probably hold off for now. And, Mr. Wheeler, come to think of it, I have had a bit of Kahlua, I think, and–if I recall–I did like it (even though I don’t like coffee). I think I had it in some egg nog. Also, I have had an amaretto desert drink I enjoyed once. Does that count?

  10. Valentin

    Mr. Smith, years ago I used to drink a moderate amount juices and soda (Dr. Pepper was also my favorite). I had become overweight at about 215 lbs (5’8″) with a 38″ waist. My mom has diabetes (it seems to be in most people’s family). The spark for change was probably reading the book “You on a Diet: Your Owner’s Manual for Waist Management” co-authored by Dr. Oz before he was famous. In fact he may have gotten his big break by being on Oprah whereupon this book sales skyrocketed. It’s not about a yo-yo diet, it’s a fun and interesting book that explains how your body works and why to avoid certain foods while targeting others. It’s a change in lifestyle attitude not a difficult to sustain diet. Anyway without too much effort and not much exercise, I’m still amazed but I lost about 40 pounds in roughly a year. The main thing I did is make water my default choice of drink with soda or juice being a once in awhile treat. You might consider the book.

    More recently I discovered stevia and try to stick to this soda brand called Zevia for my occasional soda fix. It’s all natural, only a handful of ingredients, tastes significantly better than diet soda (aspartame yuck) and amazingly has 0 calories. They have a variety of flavors including “Dr. Zevia” and while it’s pretty good, I warn you that it’s not quite as tasty as Dr. Pepper, just probably healthier.

    Good luck with your efforts to reduce your intake of soda, drink more water, and become more healthy Mr. Smith! I started taking baby aspirin recently too.

  11. Howdy, Valentin, and thanks! Your story sounds pretty familiar to me. 🙂 In the future, when I’m happy with the place my brain is in, I might try the Dr. Zevia. After all, that’s two recommendations from people on the Internet, and the Internet is never wrong! Right? Have a great Sabbath!

  12. Glory Talbott

    How are you doing now…still off of the Dr Pepper? You could always have one as a treat for the Holy Day. Good on you for quitting. I never liked soda but quitting coffee was hard for me. It was doctor’s orders, otherwise, I would still be enjoying it every morning!

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