Thursday, March 25, 2004

Pop VS. Soda

In the great "Pop" versus "Soda" debate, (which is likely to rage on until the Midwest either swells up and pushes the Coasts off the edge of the continent, or the Coasts join flanking forces and squeeze the Midwest out of existence) there is one reason I have chosen to side with the "Pop's" of this nation.

As far as I am concerned, soda is not what I drink out of a can or a 20 ounce bottle. I do not stumble down two flights of stairs in my dorm to the basement to retrieve a soda from the vending machine. Vending machines are not capable of producing soda; they spit out bottles or cans of pop.

I can't really tell you why this distinction is controversial as we collegiate types meld our colloquial tongues into one. It's only a beverage, really, but look at us. We could fight tooth and nail over the definition of a syrupy carbonated drink. I've even taken to referring to soda-pop in order to avoid dispute. This euphemism seems to add fire to the flame, rather than please both parties and ameliorate the situation, as I thought it would.

I digress. As I mentioned, there is one reason in particular I have chosen to refer to fizzy drinks contained in 20 ounces and aluminum cans as pop. These unrefined, arguably crude, drinking vessels could by no means, contain soda. Soda is not meant to be compressed with all of its lovely bubbles into metal or plastic. Soda should seemingly flow from some sort of marble fountain, brimming with fizz and tickling your nose when you get too close.

Sodas are meant to be ordered in environments that attempt to have this same euphoric aura as the above-mentioned fountain. These places are the facades and sets of the American dream--the soda shoppe in It's a Wonderful Life! or the ice cream parlor in The Music Man. The places that measure the attainment of a vision, the fall of a hero, and his struggle to succeed. There, spinning on a cushioned red stool, running my fingers on the freshly wiped-down marble counter, and hanging my feet just barely out of reach of the black-and-white tiled floor, I feel justified, asking the kid behind the counter wearing an apron and folded paper hat if I could please have one strawberry soda. A small universe of pink carbonation and hissing fizz. It will be served, too, in an unusual oblong pulled glass, one that you might get ice cream or a malt in. Its container is as real as the mirror behind the counter--I could finish its contents, throw it against the wall and it would shatter--unlike its aluminum or plastic counterparts that would flatly thunk against the red-papered walls and bump to the floor. There is something about a soda that reflects the volatility, beauty, and perserverence of the people who order them...something a pop could never reproduce.

It is thus, friends, that I have chosen to say pop. A refridgerator in a dorm, a vending machine in a basement, a beverage station in a cafeteria could only contain pop. I reserve the term "soda" for the carbonated beverages that create the illusion that I, too, could slip away into a black-and-white or technicolor utopia and sip while the backdrop of the set stands unchanging behind me.

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