Mountain Dew: A Love Story
Back when I was taping my increasingly reputable (costars included Oscar winning 12 Years Slave screenwriter John Ridley and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Josh Kun), poorly rated, basic cable movie review panel show Movie Club with John Ridley my colleague Regan Burns, who would go on to become a tremendously successful character actor on scores of commercials and TV shows like Dog With a Blog told me that he auditioned for something and borrowed, for his character, my habit of drinking a 44 Ounce Big Gulp with six to tens straws in it.
The sad thing is that that comically oversized yellow, vague toxic slime-looking beverage was only the start of any day’s soda consumption. I did not see anything weird or unusual about drinking a ginormous beverage out of a platoon of straws from a popular national convenience store chain. But looking back, it is a little weird. Then again, my relationship with soda has never been normal.
No, since I escaped the reach of my sugar and health-conscious stepmother at around eleven, soda has been a continual companion, a carbonated, heavily caffeinated security blanket I have reached to first thing in the morning and all through the afternoon and into the evening, despite being something of an insomniac.
For me, Mountain Dew is like comfort food you can drink. Just holding onto a bottle makes me feel more comfortable, because life without a soda in your hand is no kind of life at all. Soda is of course weirdly central to Insane Clown Posse and Juggalo culture from both a refreshment and stagecraft perspective. If I close my eyes and let my mind drift back, I can vividly smell the inimitable scent of dried Faygo following Insane Clown Posse’s climactic closing show at the Gathering of the Juggalos, a scent that’s gross, yes, but also redolent of a lot of vivid memories and good times. Even at the Gathering, I alternate between Faygo (ya gotta show respect; my favorite flavors are RedPop, Cola and Root Beer) and Mountain Dew, which, perhaps not surprisingly, is popular among Juggalos.
One of my favorite memories of visiting my sister and brother-in-law in France was beginning each day with a croissant from the local patisserie and a can of Coca-Cola. The croissant was flaky and delicious, of course, but I may have treasured the Coke just as much. It tasted like home. It tasted like America.
Christ, I wrote about this in the Big Whoop earlier, but I’ve somehow developed such a reputation as a man who drinks an unhealthy amount of soda (seriously, I should be featured on one of those exploitative reality shows about people with freakish compulsions) that the good people at Mountain Dew sent me a pair of tee-shirts, some sodas and some sweet-ass merch promoting some new variation of Mountain Dew that was patriotic, and not deeply contemptuous of our country and all of its institutions, like all of the other kinds of Mountain Dew, particularly Code Red, which is only named that because they thought Lenin’s Revolutionary Red Worker Juice would give the game away in terms of their Marxist leanings.
What I’m saying, dear reader, is that I maybe have a problem with over-consumption of caffeinated beverages and how I’ve let it define me as a person, writer and artist.
I am all about body positivity, in that I tend to feel positive, or at least neutral, about my body no matter how doughy or out of shape I am, but recently I was weighed at a doctor’s appointment and before I could deliver my spiel about not wanting to know what I weighed, ignorance being bliss and all, the nurse rattled off a number that matched the heaviest I’d ever been.
It did not feel great. In fact, it felt terrible. I looked mournfully at my gut and realized the thousands of calories in empty calories I was ingesting every day, almost by instinct, without really even thinking about it, had taken a toll on my body and I was as heavy as I’d ever been.
So I decided to cut back to two Mountain Dews in the morning and then to switch to Perrier for the rest of the day, although I worry that drinking rich person slop like Perrier will put me on a perilous path toward gobbling caviar, swilling Dom Perignon and voting Republican. One day you’re eschewing hillbilly juice for yuppie spritzer, the next you’re wearing a monocle, carrying a diamond-tipped cane and hunting human beings for sport. It’s a slippery slope, is what it is.
Will I go back to drinking massive quantities of the Dew when I hit my target weight? I hope not. I find I appreciate and savor soda more when it’s in limited supplies rather than when I can drink it non stop.
No matter what happens, I’ll always be a Mountain Dew kind of guy, even if I have to very dramatically curtail my consumption for the sake of my health and waistline. A Perrier may be in my hand or on my lips, but Mountain Dew will always rule my heart.
Nathan Rabin’s Happy Place has a Patreon page over at https://www.patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace and it sure would make us happy, if you were to throw in a little of the little green stuff.