The Great Cherry Coke Hunt

I wanted a Cherry Coke.  Really badly.

Most of my adult life I have eschewed soft drinks of any kind.  Either that, or I’ve consumed Code Red.  Or… when concerned about calories, Diet Mountain Dew with cherry drink flavoring added.  I have vacillated between total abstinence and Diet Mountain Dew off and on over the last couple of decades.

Until my doctor expressed her dismay that I was adding chemicals to chemicals and drinking it.  She even started holding me up as an (anonymous) example to her other patients of someone “who ought to know better” doing something profoundly stupid.  And other friends started telling me just how bad the Dew was.

So I kicked Mountain Dew to the curb.

But every once in awhile, during “Happy Hour” at Sonic, I’d get a Coke Zero with cherry and vanilla flavoring added.  I grew to like it.  And then I started worrying about artificial sweeteners.

So a few weeks ago, when I was so very tired at work, I bought a regular, non-diet Cherry Coke.  And loved it.  I knew I was starting a new indulgent phase but justified it (just as I always have) by telling myself that I only drink one 20 oz. bottle a week.  I’ve had one just about every week since.  If I could find it.  A couple of times I’ve had to settle for the inferior Wild Cherry Pepsi.

Because, you see, the Coca-Cola vending machines at work are not overfond of stocking Cherry Coke.  There’s one in the building across from mine, but it’s persnickety about taking my money.  Meaning it often won’t.

And on this particular day last week, when I really didn’t want to settle for Pepsi, it wouldn’t let me feed my dollars in.  Wouldn’t even try to take them.  I knew that the nearby machines didn’t carry Cherry Coke so I widened my search radius.  I checked six additional Coke and Dasani machines, hoping to find Cherry.  I searched upstairs and downstairs.  No Cherry Coke.

I popped my head into an honor-system snack bar and exchanged my bills for quarters.  And tried them in the special golden Cherry Coke possessing machine.  And heard my quarter fall all the way down to the coin return.

Dejected, I left the building and ran into an acquaintance.  I told him my tale of woe.  He asked if I had tried training.  When I asked if they had Cherry Coke in that machine, he said, “I don’t know, but it can’t hurt to check.”

This was an absurd statement since that particular machine was at the far end of the facility.  I pointed out that I was, quite contrary to my norm, wearing heals.  I had already walked enough and couldn’t walk all the way down there on a chance that I’d find Cherry Coke.

“Take my scooter,” he said.  “Seriously, I’m going to be in this building for a little while.  Just go ahead and take it.”

He’s crazy, I thought to myself.  And I am too if I actually take him up on his offer.

And then I climbed into the scooter.  It took me awhile to figure out how to put it in reverse.  I thought I’d thoroughly embarrass myself by climbing back out without going anywhere.  But finally, I was on the go.

I drove to the other end and parked in front of the training department.  I walked past the front desk like I knew exactly what I was doing and entered the break area.  I turned to face the Coca-Cola machine.  The first thing I noticed was the row of Cherry Cokes!  The second thing I noticed was the sign taped to the front that said “Does not work!”

You’ve got to be kidding me.

I said something to the woman at the front desk.  And in her, I found a kindred spirit.  A fellow lover of Cherry Coke.  We shared our similar, yet opposite sorrowful tales.  How mine wouldn’t take my money and how hers would take the money but not give her a drink.  She affirmed my crazy scooter borrowing action by stating she would have done the same in a heartbeat.

I stopped at another building and checked some more machines.  I finally resigned myself to Wild Cherry Pepsi.  And felt more than just a tad ridiculous that I had expended the level of time and energy I had to hunt down a Cherry Coke.

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One of Those Days

You ever have one of those days? You know… the one where you put your toothpaste on your toothbrush and then rinse it off even though you didn’t brush your teeth? Your brain goes out to lunch and leaves you hanging? Sure you have. Ever had a dozen of those days all at once?

I got in the shower after my morning run one recent morning. Like everyone else, I have a routine. First I shave my legs (if that’s on the agenda), then I wash my body, ending with my face, then I shave my armpits (if needed), then wash my hair.

This particular morning was to see the entire order of operations, but for some reason, after washing the rest of my body, I opted to shave my pits before washing my face. I don’t know why. When I then washed my face, I congratulated myself on a quick and efficient shower and turned off the water.

I stood there dripping while my mind went blank. When it returned, I realized that I had not washed my hair.

Before I go into the shower, I bring my clothes into the bathroom. Then I dress before leaving the room. On this day, however, after donning only my undergarments, I chose to return to the bedroom to make a phone call.

After hanging up the phone, I sat blankly on my bed. What should I do next? Ah, yes, I thought, looking down at myself, I should get dressed. With that thought, I stood and returned to the bathroom, where I put on my pants and picked up my shirt.

Something didn’t feel right. I don’t wear this shirt with a bra on. Why not? I looked at the shirt in my hands and then the pants I was wearing. I was putting my pajamas on! Oh, sheesh! What is going on?!

I finally succeeded in getting dressed in the appropriate clothing. Returning to the bedroom, I put on my makeup and applied deodorant. With a confident nod that I was almost ready to head to work, I walked down the hall to brush my teeth. (Still no sink in our bathroom). I’d almost reached the hall bathroom when I realized that my hair was still wet and unbrushed.

The fun continued at work. When I unlocked my screen, I was reminded that I needed to change my password. Fine. I’ll take care of that now.

I thought up a new one and entered it twice. It told me they didn’t match. Puzzled, I tried again. Same result. I studied the screen closer and realized I had entered it in the “old password” box and the first “new password” box.

With a sigh, I filled out all the boxes correctly. I was then informed that I did not have the authority to change my password. I had to call the help desk and by the time she was ready for me to enter my new password, I had forgotten it.

Needless to say, I bought a Mountain Dew that day. And warned my coworkers I wasn’t in the sharpest mental state. And eagerly awaited the end of the day.

Bee Nests, Dog Snores, and Busy Mice

My husband has been away for several days now. As a ridiculously light sleeper, I find his absence typically means more restful nights since there is not another body moving and breathing nearby.

On night number one, Hal entered my room after I had fallen asleep, announced that he was scared, and hurriedly climbed into bed. I listened for a possible explanation for his fear and settled on the rather loud wind blowing outside. I assured him that it wouldn’t bother him and held him tight for several minutes. Eventually, I gently told him it was time to return to bed.

NO!” His reply was so forceful that it surprised me. “There is a bee nest in my bed! I can’t go back in there!” He sounded panicked.

“Honey, there’s not a bee nest in your bed. You need to go back to your room to go to sleep.”

With a voice full of command, he insisted, “You go in there and look! There is a bee nest in my bed!”

“Ok. I’ll check your bed but you come with me.”

I carefully checked his bed and found only some broken rubber bands. When I said so, he gestured to another part of the bed and told me that he had been sleeping over there. I checked that part of the bed and confirmed that all that had been in his bed were the rubber bands. He then told me that he had one on his wrist that was not broken. It took me several tries to get my fingers under the too-tight rubber band on his wrist to break it lose.

A humorous aside: As I told this story to my husband on the phone the next day, the term “bee nest” came up repeatedly. Eventually, he interrupted me and asked, “Are you saying that he thought there was a penis in his bed? Hal has talked about the bee nest repeatedly and every time, I have to fight down the smile as I hear “penis”.

Back to my nights… Night number two found me lying awake, listening alternately to the dog snoring at the foot of the bed and Jane coughing across the hall. I eventually yelled at the dog to startle her awake but could not bring myself to disturb the sleeping girl.

You would think that I would be extremely tired moving into night number three and you would be right. If you think this would make me retire earlier, then you overestimate my good sense.

Around midnight, I lay in bed reading, knowing I should stop. Before I could act on that knowledge, I heard a rattling sound in the bathroom. I listened for a couple of minutes, trying to pretend I didn’t know what it was.

I’ll need to back up to that morning for you to understand the sound. I was sitting in the bathroom. Reading. (Give me a break… it’s a really good book!) Anyway, I was sitting there reading when something caught my eye. I looked up in time to see a small field mouse scurry under the door, across the floor, and behind a picture leaning against the shower, waiting to be hung on the wall.

When we installed the new shower, we had to install it on a raised platform to account for both the drain hole and the water pipes not being where they needed to be. The water pipes come out of the foundation and now angle across the floor under the shower. There are two notches cut in the platform supports for the pipes. One apparently had enough room for a mouse to pass through.

When I came home from church, I noticed a large nut sitting in front of that hole that I was fairly certain had not been there before. I strongly suspected that that nut was what was making the rattling noise at midnight. More specifically, it was likely the little mouse trying to move the nut under the platform.

I once had a rather traumatic experience of a mouse running across my head as I lay in my bed. With that memory, I knew I couldn’t sleep wondering about the mouse. As I switched on the light in the bathroom, I saw the nut rattle as the mouse disappeared under the platform.

With a sigh, I headed to the kitchen to prepare a mouse trap with some peanut butter. By the time I got back to the bathroom, the mouse had resumed its ridiculous attempts to pull the nut through the small hole. It darted back to safety and I carefully laid the trap nearby.

Back in bed, I thought about how loud a mouse trap is when it triggers and about how mice don’t always die immediately. I relived a moment nearly two decades earlier when I had listened to the squeak of a caught mouse and been unable to put it out of its misery. I also worried about the mouse ignoring the trap and coming into the bedroom. Sleep, I was sure, was not coming soon.

The rattling resumed shortly after I climbed back in bed. When it stopped, I got up and turned on the light. The nut, to my shock, was gone! I could believe that a squishy mouse could get through that hole but surely not that fat nut! Then I saw the trap. Licked clean of all its peanut butter.

This time, I used a toothpick to carefully push the peanut butter deep into the mechanism of the trap.

Eventually, I managed to drift off into a fitful sleep. I was dreaming about dealing with the mouse when a loud THWACK! woke me up. Confused, I lay awake wondering what had interrupted my slumber. It slowly dawned on me that the noise was most likely the trap. A quick check confirmed that I was right.

Finally, maybe I could sleep peacefully. As I lay there, waiting for sleep to return, the coughing started across the hall. And I was fairly sure I could hear faint snoring from the dog asleep on the couch. It was now well after 1:00. My alarm would go off in just over four and a half hours and I was nowhere near sleep. I was pretty sure the day would be a Mountain Dew day.