Memories : Unlimited Soda

I remember.
Clearly.
The day I made that choice.
It happened
The first year I ever worked
In a world I never made.

1976.
It was in early October.
I’d managed to get
My very first job.
Working in a grocery store.
As a grocery bagger.
A generic name.
For a generic job.
A job in which
You could end up doing
Damn near anything.

Like straightening out
The contents of
The freezer isle.

Do you have any idea
How frakkin’ cold
500 half gallon boxes
Of ice cream really is?
Momma…
My fingers still remember that.
Even after all these years.

Back then,
Soda was dirt cheap.
Less than 50 cents
A can
Out of vending machines.
And the store had one.

I’d been working
All afternoon.
Into the evening.
I was helping
Close the store.
When I decided
I was thirsty.
And took a time out
To grab a drink.
And chug that drink down
While I was working.

No one minded
In the least.

But as I went
To get my drink,
I remember exactly
What I thought.

I thought
Of my family
History.
Our ingrained abuse
Of alcohol.
I thought of the problems
So very many
In my family
Had had with that.
Going back
For centuries.

I knew then
That a person shouldn’t drink
3 or 4,
Or 5 or 6
Cans of soda
Every day.
That doing that
Would not be a good thing.

But I knew also
About the dangers
Of drinking even one
Alcoholic beverage
In my family.

So I stood there for a moment.
Having bought a soda
From the vending machine.
With that cold grape soda
In my hand.
Feeling the coldness
Of the can.

And I remember thinking,
“I don’t care
If it’s wrong.
And it will hurt me
In the long run.
I’m going to let myself
Drink all the soda
I want to.
Because it beats the hell
Out of drinking
Alcohol.”

So on that night,
Working in that store,
I threw out the rule
I’d been taught
About drinking just one can
Of soda
Every day.

I remember that choice,
Every detail.
Every thought.

And I don’t regret
Having made that choice
At all.

For I’ve never had a problem
With alcohol.
Unlike so very many
In my family’s
History.

I remember.
Clearly.
The day I made that choice.
It happened
The first year I ever worked
In a world I never made.

1976.
It was in early October.
I’d managed to get
My very first job.
Working in a grocery store.
As a grocery bagger.
A generic name.
For a generic job.
A job in which
You could end up doing
Damn near anything.

Like straightening out
The contents of
The freezer isle.

Do you have any idea
How frakkin’ cold
500 half gallon boxes
Of ice cream really is?
Momma…
My fingers still remember that.
Even after all these years.

Back then,
Soda was dirt cheap.
Less than 50 cents
A can
Out of vending machines.
And the store had one.

I’d been working
All afternoon.
Into the evening.
I was helping
Close the store.
When I decided
I was thirsty.
And took a time out
To grab a drink.
And chug that drink down
While I was working.

No one minded
In the least.

But as I went
To get my drink,
I remember exactly
What I thought.

I thought
Of my family
History.
Our ingrained abuse
Of alcohol.
I thought of the problems
So very many
In my family
Had had with that.
Going back
For centuries.

I knew then
That a person shouldn’t drink
3 or 4,
Or 5 or 6
Cans of soda
Every day.
That doing that
Would not be a good thing.

But I knew also
About the dangers
Of drinking even one
Alcoholic beverage
In my family.

So I stood there for a moment.
Having bought a soda
From the vending machine.
With that cold grape soda
In my hand.
Feeling the coldness
Of the can.

And I remember thinking,
“I don’t care
If it’s wrong.
And it will hurt me
In the long run.
I’m going to let myself
Drink all the soda
I want to.
Because it beats the hell
Out of drinking
Alcohol.”

That on that night,
Working in that store,
I threw out the rule
I’d been taught
About drinking just one can
Of soda
Every day.

I remember that choice,
Every detail.
Every thought.

And I don’t regret
Having made that choice
At all.

For I’ve never had a problem
With alcohol.
Unlike so very many
In my family’s
History.

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