I dined at a very upscale restaurant a few days ago. This not having been my first time getting cleaned up, I was very conscious about minding my table manners. Using the right fork--check. Not sipping loudly through my straw--check. Napkin placed on my lap--check.
Then I was stopped dead in my tracks by a curve ball.
"What sort of pop do you have?" I asked, hoping Diet Dr. Pepper was available.
"We have Coke products," said the waitress.
Hold on there, tiger. "We have Coke products?" What the hell does that mean? I didn't know quite how to reply, especially since she didn't say anything after that. She just expected me to know. Am I the only one in the world who doesn't know the particularities of what the Coca Cola company makes versus the Pepsi Cola company? If I asked for a Coke, that would be another matter. But saying "We have Coke products" is like me asking for a Saab and a car salesman saying they have Ford products.
"I don't know what that means," I said to the waitress.
I really wasn't trying to be a dick, honest.
Then she went down the line of her pop selection. I was looking for this answer from the beginning. The ultimate answer came out to be, "No, damnit, there is no Diet Dr. Pepper."
I asked my friends whether they knew the answer to this pressing issue. Much to my surprise, they knew. For the love of God how, I have no idea. How can it be that I am the only person in the world who doesn't know these things? After all, I am a reasonably educated and worldly guy. I am 35 years old. I wasn't born yesterday. How could this be something utterly beyond me? I know that the speed of light is 186,000,282.4 miles per second. I know E=mc2. I know the date of Columbus discovering America, 1492. But I don't know who makes what sort of pop?
Maybe it's because I'm not a dedicated enough pop drinker. I don't usually make use of vending machines because they are overpriced. When I buy pop from Wal Mart, I usually buy the generic stuff because it is cheaper and tastes more or less the same. But even if I were buying named brand pop, how would I come to learn who makes what? Is this detail something written on the packaging? If yes, I've never seen it. Most of the pop I drink is too busy telling you how the saccharin or aspartame in it is going to give your pet rats cancer. Once you read that, it's hard to become interested in the details of whether Pepsi makes Mountain Dew or not.
I could look up this information on the Internet, but somehow I am content in my ignorance. The bottom line is that I don't care enough to learn the information. In a complex and busy world, trying to keep up, all I expect is for my waitress to just plod ahead and humor my dumb ass and tell me whether they have Diet Dr. Pepper or Mountain Dew.
Or maybe next time I'll just ask for a Diet Pepsi. Britney Spears drinks it, so it must be the right choice, right? I think it is the choice of the new generation, whatever that means.