I usually don’t pay attention to television commercials. In my mind, they are just a necessary evil so folks can watch free TV. To fight back, I have my computer resting on my lap, while the unending 30-second sales pitches past before my eyes. But this morning it was different.
A Coke commercial came on, and it immediately took me back to my teen years. I don’t know why I paid attention to this one; I’ve seen hundreds of Coke commercials, but this one featured a GLASS BOTTLE of Coke. The sixteen ounce variety. The kind I drank down at Debbie’s house from the time I was thirteen.
It was a time in my life when my father had fallen into illness, and my mother did her best to keep things quiet for him. The mantra at our house was, “SHHHHH, get out of here. Your father doesn’t feel good.” So, off to Debbie’s I would go, by foot or by Schwinn.
Debbie’s Mom always bought Coke because Debbie’s Dad drank nothing else. At the time, the beverage only came in 16 oz. glass, refundable bottles. The carton of eight bottles weighed about 50 pounds, I swear. But Debbie and I never minded lugging the sweet beverage into the house on grocery day because we knew afterward we would be treated for our assistance. The Coke carton sat in the back hall; it never made it to the refrigerator because the clunky bottles took so much space. So, every time I would visit the Johnson’s, I’d have to walk past the carton that always made my mouth water. You see, my mother never bought Coke. I think she thought it was an evil concoction. She said they cleaned car carburetors with the stuff.
I remember sitting in Debbie’s bed, legs crossed with a tall Tupperware tumbler filled to the brim with ice cubes, opening the tall bottle with a “church key” (that’s a bottle opener for you youngsters), and then pouring the dark, sweet, soda of the gods over the ice. We’d sit silently while the Coke spilled over the ice, producing a crackling and a fizzing sound that we listened to like a sermon on Sunday. Then came the first sip, when we’d put our lips to the plastic glass and savor the cold sweetness of the special summer soda. In the privacy of her bedroom, Debbie and I would sit for hours, talking about girl stuff while we tried to make our sixteen ounces of Coke last as long as it could.
The biggest change since then–besides growing older–(Did I tell you Debbie’s a grandma?) has been the glass bottles have been replaced by cans and plastic containers. The Coca Cola Company has also developed different varieties to appease the dieters and thrill seekers (Lime Coke, come on!). But the REAL THING is still the the only soda on the planet as far as I’m concerned. I’m just glad we don’t have to carry those heavy glass bottles any more.