I have almost nothing in common with Sam Carter.
Sam Carter is (Or was, I suppose — she’s only around in reruns these days. Do you know the appropriate verb tense for that situation? I have no idea.) — a character in several TV shows (at least three) whereas I’m a real person (as far as I can tell; I think I’d know if I wasn’t). She’s the smartest person on the face of the earth and I’m the smartest person in this room. (I’m the only person in the room — that helps.) She’s saved the world several times, once by blowing up a sun. Me? I’ve turned off a computer by accident. She has a gun named after her; I have my name on a trophy for not being the best. Her hair is significantly shorter than mine, too.
See? Totally different.
But we have two things in common.
She has a doctorate in astrophysics; so do I. (She’s done more with hers, of course, but whatever.) In addition, we both have a taste for cold beverages laced with health-damaging chemicals. She likes diet soda (which is full of nasty things like artificial sweeteners); I’m partial to energy drinks which are full of things like flame retardants.
I don’t drink many of them; I recognize that they’re not a healthy addition to one’s diet: each one has a week’s worth of sugar, they contain enough caffeine to give cardiac arrhythmia to Godzilla (or his mean ‘ol cousin Ed) and the ingredients list is packed with chemicals that many people can’t pronounce and probably wouldn’t want to consume if they knew what they were.
Plus they’re expensive — double the cost of soda, more or less. So expensive that I refuse to buy them at regular price. And that brings up a couple of things that puzzle me.
Most of the time, for most things the bigger the store, the better the price. If I’m looking for the best price for, oh, I don’t know, a box of brightly-coloured breakfast cereal guaranteed to contain no natural ingredients, I’ll probably find a better price in a supermarket than a corner store. Wikipedia says as much:
Convenience stores usually charge significantly higher prices than ordinary grocery stores or supermarkets, which they make up for with convenience by serving more locations and having shorter cashier lines.
Energy drinks are one of the few products for which this truism isn’t always accurate: the cheapest (not counting sales and such) places to buy them around here are convenience stores. So if I have a burning need to induce tachycardia, it’s either find the weekly sale flyers for all of the supermarket chains in town or just hit a nearby convenience store. Pretty easy choice most of the time.
What’s up with that?
The other thing that puzzles me is alcohol.
When energy drinks first appeared on the market there was much hand-wringing, gnashing of teeth and rending of clothing by various organizations of self-righteous finger-pointing witch-hunting nail-biting grouchy old poops: “Oh no, the youth of today will mix it with alcohol which will spell THE END OF CIVILISATION AS WE KNOW IT.”
Inevitably enough, that happened. (Well, the first part, anyway — if civilisation ended, I didn’t notice. There are still taxes, traffic lights and internet cat videos. As far as I can tell, civilisation continues to march on.) The hand-wringing changed tone a little: “They’re mixing energy drinks with alcohol. Even though civilisation is safe, something bad is GOING to happen. How can we STOP them?”
How indeed? The marketplace provided the answer as it provides so many other answers: it provided pre-mixed energy drinks and alcohol. No longer would people wanting to get drunk without getting sleepy have to go through the onerous, time consuming and confusing process of mixing two liquids together; all they had to do was open a can. Truly the marketplace has an answer for everything.
I don’t think I knew this until last week when I was at the local government alcohol monopoly outlet. (There’s no implied editorial comment there, I hasten to add. I’m opposed to monopolies on principle but mostly — with the odd exception — these guys do a decent job.) I was looking for beer named after an argumentative rodent to pour into unsuspecting curlers and government scientists. Predictably there wasn’t any; it being on sale, they were sold out. There were several hundred cans of some of the worst beer in the world but we decided to ask the nice lady if there was any more good stuff in the back. While she was gone (she found some on the bottom of a skid — insert obligatory discussion of the difference between a pallet and a skid here) Ms. Rose and I wandered aimlessly around the store.
There, on a refrigerator shelf, was the end (or not) of civilisation as we know it. Several dozen cans of an energy drink with added alcohol. And the price was lower than the supermarket cost of the alcohol-free stuff.
What’s up with that?