Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where the outlook's always sunny for the downsized and ostracized gods and goddesses of yesteryear. If you've been drinking the same old soda for forty years, maybe it's time to try a whole new taste sensation!
And then again, maybe not.
I am outraged by the wanton destruction of my only incurable addiction!
I was a skinny young 4-H goat exhibitor in the late 1960s when Coca-Cola introduced its brand new diet soft drink, Tab.
One day, being particularly thirsty at the home of a friend with a rotund mama, I popped open a can of this new stuff and guzzled it.
What can I say? Tab grabbed. It held me with an iron grip.
I swilled the stuff right through the era when they said it would give you cancer. Since the beginning of the 21st century, I've haunted grocery stores, pleading with the managers to stock more Tab! When I see the rare shipment, I buy as many 12-packs as I can carry.
Never mind that it tastes like Coke that spent 40 days on Noah's Ark. It's a cola, it's sugar-free, and it's so loaded with caffeine that you can wrestle a ram to the ground when it's poppin in your brain.
Yesterday I sent my daughters, The Heir and The Spare, into the pharmacy to get some soft drinks for themselves. I was completely joking when I told them to bring me a Tab, because they stopped selling Tab in pharmacies the year Nixon resigned.
Out they come, grinning ear to ear with a little old secret between themselves. The Heir pulls from behind her back this cute little can, proper shade of pink, called "Tab Energy."
Whoa! Hold the phone! It's like Rush Limbaugh walking into Walgreens and pulling Oxy off the shelf! My eyes glazed over. My breathing grew ragged.
And that name: Tab Energy. Kind of hints that it's extra-caffeinated Tab, probably the equivalent of drinking 24 cans of Classic Tab.
Both daughters watched expectantly as I popped the prize open. Then they wanted to have a first taste. The Heir tasted it and pronounced it horrible. The Spare tasted it and hacked like she had a hairball.
So far, so good. It must be Tab.
I put the pink present to my lips and swallowed.
Betrayal. Total and complete betrayal!
Tab Energy is not Tab. It tastes like Mr. Clean. Judging by how it went down my throat, I would recommend it for those tough clogs that don't respond to Drano.
The final dazzling disappointment occurred when I opened my Econo-Car's window and poured the stuff onto the parking lot. The liquid was pink! Pink! Everyone knows that Tab is a cola. It's supposed to be brown, and it's supposed to taste like Coke that's been used in chemistry lab and returned to its can.
The daughters and I regarded this alien pink liquid with disgust and alarm. As we left the pharmacy, the Tab Energy was busy dissolving the asphalt.
There are so many levels of concern here I hardly know where to begin.
1. Since real Tab has already become difficult to obtain, will Coca-Cola stop making real Tab in favor of this undrinkable impostor?
2. Will the inevitable public rejection of Tab Energy be the final, fatal blow to real Tab?
3. Will I have to start drinking coffee? I hate coffee. I made it through four years of college on Tab and Tab alone.
4. If I can't find real Tab, and I have to start drinking healthy mineral water, like that stuff that pours out of the taps in Berkeley Springs State Park, will I be able to keep my eyes open at R-rated action flicks? I seriously doubt it.
Oh, the perils of being a Tab Hunter!
THE PARCHED MERLIN OF BERKELEY SPRINGS