My morning can of Diet Coke: From my cold, dead hand!
I suspect that if I were to yank my own pancreas out at this exact moment, it would resemble that hard chunk of amber from “Jurassic Park” — the one with the mosquito preserved inside from which they extracted the dinosaur DNA.
It’s not my liver I’m worried about.
After all, the fact that I don’t drink was once made embarrassingly evident at a TGI Fridays, when I may or may not have gotten buzzed from a single strawberry daiquiri. (My wife claims I kept “giggling like a little girl.” I claim I was merely demonstrating the mating call of a dominant male aardwolf.)
Likewise, I don’t smoke, so my lungs should theoretically still be nice and pink.
But I’m a soda fiend.
Specifically, a Diet Coke addict.
With each 12-ounce can of diet pop, I can practically feel the pickling of various internal organs.
I have various Facebook friends who are constantly posting things about the “dangers” of diet pop. Even though the National Cancer Institute — what do they know? — has stated there’s no evidence that artificial sweeteners like aspartame are associated with cancer, I’m continually made to feel like what I’m drinking is more akin to Agent Orange than an actual beverage.
Then again, when you look at the back of the can to see the warning, “PHENYLKETONURICS: CONTAINS PHENYLALANINE,” it sorta gives you pause.
The sound of my first can being cracked open at 8:15 a.m. might actually be the sound of a man slowly being rendered impotent.
That, and “phenylketonurics” just sounds like something that was either sprayed on the Ho Chi Minh Trail to keep the jungle from growing or else is some kind of nuclear by-product that they keep buried underneath the desert.
Until the government — and we can always trust the government, right? — says otherwise, I’ll leave it to my son to join the class-action lawsuit after I’m dead. (I mean, surely those lawyers who represent victims of mesothelioma are going to need something to do in a few years once everyone who ever ingested asbestos is gone.)
My son, who’s now 6, will one day recall under oath his dad’s tragic, final days, when his father’s skin had turned a bizarre shade of caramel and when the aspartame had changed his sense of taste so dramatically that he frequently could be found sucking the nectar out of hummingbird feeders.
In the court of public opinion, at least, aspartame is so bad for you that you’re better off spraying Deep Woods Off! straight into your mouth.
Until Deep Woods Off! contains caffeine, that’s personally not an option.
PepsiCo within the past week announced it’s removing aspartame from Diet Pepsi in the U.S., regardless of the science, in favor of sucralose and acesulfame potassium. The mere presence of aspartame, apparently, is to blame for a decline in sales of diet pop.
Well, do you know who else once removed aspartame from soft drinks?
(OK, they didn’t really. It just sounded like a powerful statement.)
I brought a can of Diet Coke to my son’s soccer game at Kelso Park on Monday night. In fact, it was the only drink we had on hand when his coach told the players to take a timeout and go get a drink.
Every other parent had a bottle of water on standby or some kind of neon-colored sport drink.
I had my Diet Coke.
“Dad, can I have a drink of your Coke?” my son asked.
As he took a swig, I was immediately reminded of that old John Belushi sketch from “Saturday Night Live” where he plays an Olympic athlete who credits his success to Little Chocolate Donuts — “the donuts of champions” — all while smoking.
As George Carlin professed in his last stand-up special, “It’s all bad for ya.”
Then again, both of those guys are dead.
A whole host of people on the Internet would have you believe that all pop in general — not just diet soda — is actually made by Monsanto in some secret volcano lair alongside pink hamburger slime, microwave popcorn and various genetically modified organisms.
But did you know that Warren Buffett drinks at least five Cokes a day?
He said as much in a February interview with Fortune.
He’s 84 and the third-richest man in the world.
God bless him.
When he finally kicks off, it’s my sincere hope his pancreas goes on a traveling exhibit.