A short list of confusingly strong opinions on energy drinks
5. White Monster (Monster Ultra Zero)
White Monster is the old reliable; a boldly flickering halogen bulb amidst the encroaching shroud of darkness and uncertainty of a post-truth era. When I convince myself that I’m a cowboy in the manic throes of sleeplessness and reach for the “Big Iron” on my hip, my hands will wrap around one of these instead.
White Monster is the trusted companion with no risk, no surprises, and the caffeine required to keep my heart from stopping dead in its tracks. When the cards are down and you find yourself needing a companion for those late nights that crack into sallow and blue mornings, White Monster is there for you. White Monster is in every vending machine, every convenience store, most grocery stores, and likely between the seat cushions of your couch.
Most importantly, White Monster won’t stop me from texting that ex, but it will certainly keep me awake long enough to regret it as they yell at me in a panic and ask if you can please, please, please take them to a liquor store well after they’re closed. Then, we both share a cathartic sob and embrace (as friends, this time) before parting ways. Even if the can tips over when that ex shuts the car door too hard, that’s okay — it’s sugar-free. It’s easy to clean up, doesn’t get sticky, and doesn’t get too attached.
That’s okay. Neither do I.
4. Coconut? Quescka fuck? (Coconut Berry Red Bull)
***All limited edition flavours of Red Bull on this list are artifacts. If you find one please contact me immediately.
Cargo shorts and flowered shirts.
Cargo shorts and flowered shirts.
CARgo SHORts and fLOWERED shIRTS
CARGO SHORTS AND FLOWERED SHIRTS
This Bull’s got fruity notes that pop through your palate and nose unapologetically, and is best served ice, ice cold. “I quit drinking,” you tell yourself, while grilling bratwurst. “I needed to supplement the calories somehow.”
Let me tell you, those calories should probably not include “daily” near-lethal doses of caffeine, lest you set yourself up for disappointment later in life. Imagine having the motivation and ability comparable to a cocaine-era film executive in your mid-twenties. I found that later in life, trying to live up to this was almost as disappointing as finding out that dad didn’t want to live with mom anymore in kindergarten. It was equally disheartening to find out that playing La Bamba in the backyard by myself does not guarantee I’ll actually have friends in my thirties.
3. Special Orange Red Bull (Holiday Spice Red Bull)
Novelty is a pleasant little buzzing insect in my ear. Every time a new Red Bull flavour comes out, I have to try it. Most of the time, I hate it. But this time, with the citrus, ginger, and spices — I could almost swear that I was actually alive.
But no, the lid on this coffin was sealed years ago, and with my nails, I only had time to scratch only half of my last name — “Da… It’ll be a mystery to solve in future archeological digs. But, when they scrape my blackened teeth, fixed in a wiry grin, they’ll receive the privileged waft of what autumn tastes like.
It tastes like rolling leaves and small, small bubbles percolating with a child’s laughter as they break on the roof of your mouth. I would drink these so often that it would hurt. It still hurts, in fact, knowing that society peaked when I still had a strong back and full lungs. These things earned by the hour, accompanied by the “lug, lug, lug” of a work truck parked on a snowy boulevard in Garneau. The coiled start of a snowblower and the scrape of a shovel — these are the things that made a version of me more suited for the apocalypse.
As it trudges slowly, eclipsing a round horizon, I wish I still had that strength now.
2. Plum (Plum Red Bull)
Yes, there are three flavours of Red Bull on this list. I’m no stranger to getting wings or strangers around me getting them.
Plum reminds me of those funeral sandwiches. The ones that they take the crust off — the ones eaten in quiet mourning. Those neutral-toned canned meats; those sweet, inoffensive spices. Sandwiches of safety.
Plum reminds me of the dampened laughter you give people whose coping mechanism is cracking familiar jokes. You recognize that they’re just trying to process in their own way, but it’s an open casket. There’s something final about that — something emphatically unfunny, or something absurd. And, maybe that’s why you laugh. Not because it’s what you’re supposed to do, or that the joke is actually something that warrants a laugh. No, not at all.
It’s that this is the joke. We’re this emergent consciousness experiencing itself, locked away in our clumsy, frail bodies. We’re loose cannons fired amongst the stars, together and alone in this sublime existence happening on scales unknowably large and small.
We’re an audience afraid to laugh, but how could we not? We harvest the ingredients, boil them down in a vat somewhere. We dig up the ore, flatten it, and shape it. We spend so much time creating this little thing that makes a “pscrack” sound when we open it. Then, we glug it down, and feel the paradox of cold and crackling liquids and the flushing warmth of our cheeks in November as the caffeine — one of our favourite drugs — reminds us: “We are very much alive.
Yes, yes, we are. But, our time is limited; Much like the plum Red Bull was.
1. Orange Monster ( Ultra Sunrise)
Orange Monster is scarce, but it still exists. It has been plagued with recalls, shortfalls, and stock problems. Right now, it’s better than gold, a treasure to be shared, that is mined from the scarce veins of mom-and-pop convenience stores which are the last ones to know when a recall comes around. The Whyte Mart clerks — I never asked their names, just for all three samosas to help offset the awkwardness of buying perplexing volumes of this sacred fluid. I like to dole these rare finds out like treasure — like love.
It is love, though; when I share these little things and see people smile. Material objects create reality through our interactions with each other. The meaning is not in the can, but in the smile, the gaze, and the warmth of one another.
It feels, frankly, a little silly to run around doing my laps around the city. It feels a little silly to do my little dance — my little raid. But, it brings me joy; it brings me purpose. And, if my purpose is to make other people’s day a little bit happier, or to play this game of gift and repayment with the people that I love, can’t I just play it? Can’t I just pretend that these little microcosms of meaning can be something?
Can’t I just give myself permission to do that?
Can’t I be something?
Photo by Zach Dafoe