late yesterday evening, i made a trip to fashion valley mall and found myself overwhelmed with thirst.
perhaps it was because san diego was about the same temperature as the epicenter of towering inferno yesterday.
regardless, i considered what i might be needing to drink as i neared the food court on the way to the parking garage. diet coke crossed my mind, as rubios has the most delicious lemons at their soda fountain that, when mixed with diet coke, create an amazing taste sensation that my tongue really, really likes. and just when i had almost made up my mind, i saw it:
hot dog on a stick.
oh dear jesus, yes! i thought. that amazingly tempting plastic vat of lemonade with it's delectable floating lemon wedges just whispering my name on a crisp, velvet wind of citrus.
i walked up to the counter with undeniable excitement. but wait - would i order regular lemonade? or cherry? or limeade?
no. regular. just look at that beaming, yellow solution that would be made only more delightful with a cup full of ice. best not to confuse it with more flavors. regular.
NO. sugar free. hooray! all the deliciousness and none of the calories. how great! i won't be too amped up on sugar to go to sleep. man, what a brilliant idea. i'm diabolical!
"large sugar free lemonade," and in his striped shirt and ridiculous hat, he began creating what would become a beverage i would savor for a half hour - maybe more!
i couldn't help but notice that behind the counter were a row of mirrors, making it possible to watch my lemonade trickling from it's magical spout, as though i were standing in both places at once - in front of the counter and behind.
but he didn't head towards the dispenser with my giant, soon-to-be-not-empty cup.
he walked to the far counter from me, almost out of sight if not for my mirror discovery. and i watched. while he pulled a measuring cup from beneath the counter filled with pale yellow powder, and poured the entire contents into my cup.
of course! artificial sweetener.
but no. the splenda came next. and then my cup was filled not from any dispenser, but with regular water. from the sink.
stunned to silence, i watched as he stirred it, placed the lid on, and walked back to where i was. he placed it on the counter with a wrapped straw, and with a smile, handed me my receipt.
i didn't bother to look behind him at my face in the mirror, but from what i could feel, i imagine i had the same expression i would have had if he pissed in the cup and handed it to me. utter. complete. sadness.
i shuffled to my car in the dark, the sad charlie brown song echoing far away in my head. honestly, i think i took it harder than finding out about santa claus.
i can't bring myself to look at the cup. it's still in its holder in my car, ice long since melted. i halfway expect it to be leaking from the seams when i get back into my car this afternoon, mocking me with its lukewarm, artificial sweetness.
when life gives you lemons, go to rubios.