Monday September 15, 2003
I know what I have and what I don’t have. For instance, I have this mug. Not an ordinary mug, but a thickly insulated, red plastic mug with pop-top lid and the capacity to hold fifty-two fluid ounces. Fifty-two fluid ounces of liquid beverage. Is that registering in anyone’s mind out there? That, my friend’s is a lot of liquid, and more often than not it is soda, pure delicious, carbonated, sugarized, caffeinatedly filled goodness in tooth rotting liquid form. Soda, the dentist’s nemesis; soda, my joyous provider. This grand red mug of soda filled pleasure only cost me four dollars and it has a handle, a thick red handle. I can cradle this beast in the bend of my elbow, hold the handle and have it pressed against my shoulder. This mug is perfect. Eighty-five cents a refill, anywhere, everywhere that your friendly convenience stores decide to happily place themselves for my use. The red mug is mine, honestly I am not the only owner of this magnificent creation, but I do believe I use it to the fullest, the most, the fillingest. Eighty-five cents, the number rings bells for me, the number calls out from the heavens, the number is purity in currency form. I have piles of quarters and dimes, structured and ordered in three quarters per dime denominations. Each day rolls perfectly upon the filling, upon the emptying of this mug.
Yet another simple moment in joyous time arrived, the store entrance shown as brightly as pearly gates. The squeaking door announced my arrival, and the soda machine whirled its mechanic pleasure at the sight of my face. The glow of light from above the soda machine beckoned without tease. Pure want filled my being as I glided through the shining aisles. Nothing and no one was in my way, the morning was still too early for most denizens of this town. Their loss, as I knew I would taste the first drops of delicious splendor. I removed the thick pop top, holding it gently in my left hand, and lifted the mug underneath the ice dispenser. Gently pressing forward with the mug, ice cubes and chunks fell into the red mug, destined to cool the soda of splendor. I filled the mug half-way with ice cubes, which is all that is needed for perfect soda temperature maintenance. I slid the mug across the grilled base of the machine and halted the mug under the friendly green rectangle, declaring my allegiance to the mountain of dew. I released the handle and gently pressed the activator button and watched in awe as the green liquid filled the mug, a Christmas joy filled my eyes as this beautiful green swirled within the red mug. The top was reached and the button was depressed. The red handle was gripped and lifted, and the pop top was replaced to protect the green purity within. Eighty-five cents and a glorious day ahead.
I turned and walked towards the check out counter, meeting the eyes of the clerk, who apparently had been watching the magnificent filling from afar. He, apparently in awe, could not even smile for me, but grimaced at his complete lack of a mug of his own. Poor fellow, working each day in the very heart of this wonderful ideal, and unable to procure one to provide endless, daily joy. I placed the red mug atop the counter and reached into my pocket to retrieve the four coins, one much smaller than the others.
“Dollar,” poured from his mouth in a southern drawl, thick with stupidity.
“Buh…what…no see, its only eighty-five cents…”
“Dollar,” repeated the specter before me.
“No, wait…it’s a refill…eighty-fi—“
“Dollar,” he repeated thrusting his hand palm up towards me.
“—ve cents…buh…” I found him impossible to reason with or argue with, my words jammed inside my head. I was in the right, thoroughly, an eternity of eighty-five cents investments proved me in the right. But his stupidity was too much for me, I reached into another pocket and pulled out my only dollar, and placed it reluctantly in his hand. He quickly clutched it and deftly slid the dollar into his pocket as he smoothly, crookedly grinned. He turned away, staring blankly at the register.