In the early nineties, I saw the commercial for Diet Coke, and Paula Abdul was dancing and singing, “Just for the taste of it, Diet Coke!” I fell in love with Paula Abdul, and my favorite soda was Diet Coke for a long time after that.
By the time I was sixteen-years-old with a job at a Target store, my liking of Paula Abdul had faded, but I still favored Diet Coke over any other soda. If I didn’t bring anything from home to drink, or if I drank all of whatever it was that I brought from home to work, then I would sometimes buy a Diet Coke from the soda machine on my break.
At the time I had my job at Target, I was five-foot-three-inches tall, and I weighed only one-hundred-nine pounds. I was a skinny kid. Just about every time one of my co-workers came into the break room and saw me drinking a Diet Coke, they’d ask me, “Why are you drinking Diet Coke, you’re not fat???”
Did I miss the day of school when a lesson was given on why Diet Coke is a danger to the skinny person’s health? Since when is Diet Coke for overweight people only? Should I drink Coca-Cola when I’m skinny, then drink Diet Coke when I notice that I’m starting to pick up a few pesky pounds, then go back to Coca-Cola when my thighs stop jiggling? That makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? Those people talked as if the only reason someone needs to lose weight is to achieve cosmetic benefits. If you thought that I was on a diet the first time you saw me drinking a Diet Coke, why didn’t you figure that I was on the last day of my diet?
One day, when I was drinking a Diet Coke in the employees’ break room, one of my co-workers came through the door. I don’t remember her name, but she was short and–well, she looked like she could use a Diet Coke, herself. She worked on the phones at the operator’s desk, and she was always fussing about something. Something about a skinny kid drinking a Diet Coke just burned that girl up. As soon as she noticed me with a Diet Coke in my right hand, she asked me, “Why are you drinking Diet Coke, you’re not fat???”
It was starting to sound like a song. Some of my other co-workers had already asked me the same question, and it was about the third time that that girl had asked me, “Why are you drinking Diet Coke, your not fat???”
Strike one. Strike two. Strike three, your out! I responded, “Maybe because I’m skinny, and I’d like to stay that way, saddlebags!” trying to duplicate the nastiness of that girl’s question.
Of course the groans could be heard at the Weight Watchers about two miles away, and there was some slight chuckling.
Then I explained to everyone in the break room, “Look, I like Diet Coke, because I like the flavor of it!”
Moral of the story: Let others have their own opinion, just for the taste of it.