The Diet Coke Challenge

In which I give up the best soft drink of all time. For a while.

I am desperately addicted to Diet Coke, despite the fact that it goes against everything I believe in.

Yup, I'm one of those obnoxious hippies who fills his Nalgene bottles up at water fountains and rails against the evils of the bottled-water industry. That's not the worst of it: I bring my own bags to my local natural-foods co-op. I once went 10 years without eating at McDonald's. And yet I spend $30 to $50 a month supporting a company I loathe.

I trained myself in college to ignore the soda's aspartame aftertaste, and now I drink at least one can or 20-ounce bottle a day, sometimes two. The taste is clean and complex enough to accompany every meal without giving me a sugar crash. Diet Coke is the ideal accompaniment to a lunchtime sandwich. Nothing else can dissolve the fatty meats I consume almost daily. No other beverage revs me up (but not too much) for a late night out.

Last week, my dentist told me that Diet Coke has so much one of her dental-school classmates had dissolved a tooth in a bottle of Coke in two days. Plus, there's the whole Coca-Cola boycott over allegedly murderous activities in Colombia. Rumors! All rumors (OK, maybe not).

Oh, Diet Coke, how I love you. None of the natural tea colas or diet lemon-lime sodas I've stepped out with can ever replace you. But we have to stop seeing so much of each other.

Which is why I've decided to replicate my annual January-is-no-alcohol-month ritual with something even harder to give up. The only reason I'm posting about this is because if I don't, I won't go through with it.

We'll see each other again someday, Diet Coke. In July. And preferably at a soda fountain. I'll bring the Nalgene bottle. You bring the fizz.

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