Saturday, February 2, 2013


I've recently become addicted to Crystal Lite Green Tea and Raspberry, which comes in a powdered form, little packets to be mixed into a water bottle or glass or beer mug (in my case).

I hate any form of instant tea. I like my tea from leaves. Well, better said, I used to hate any form of instant tea, but now I like this little wizard in a packet. It doesn't have that "malty" taste of most instant teas.

Crystal Lite's concept isn't new. Don't you remember about 20 or 30 years ago when everyone was mixing equal parts of instant tea and Tang? All I remember is that it tasted terrible—meaning chemically sweet and malty—which left me no chance of getting addicted to it like I'm addicted to other things.

Codeine, for example. I am addicted to codeine. Or more accurately the prescribed Tylenol-4 that I take for pain. Not like House M.D.  I don't pop 'em like Tic Tacs. I manage that addiction well enough, I suppose. For that matter, I'd become addicted to medical marijuana if I could get my hands on it and stay out of jail. Speaking of that, I've often wondered what the local sheriff would do if I cruised into his office and said, I'm flying to California and bringing home a couple of pounds of marijuana, but it's going to be for pain relief. 

Do you think he'd give me a pass, considering the wheelchair and all. The wheelchair ought to be good for something other than a close-to-the-door parking space.

I'm also addicted to peanut butter, the low-salt kind, since I'm not addicted to salt. And V-8 juice, again the low-salt kind. The Internet. Interaction with a list of friends around the world. Sunshine. Reading. Regular tea in the morning, with a slice of fresh lemon. 

And I used to be addicted to sugar, which I am positive is physically/psychologically addicting whether you believe it or not. Currently, I manage that sugar addiction with a methadone-like dose of one peppermint or butterscotch candy every evening. Oh, yeah. I do go off the wagon occasionally when the temptation (pie) is too great.

I mention sugar because the Green Tea-Raspberry concoction is one of the few sweet drinks I like. I'm southern, but I don't like sweet tea. I don't like Coca-Cola or any other soda pop. Oh, maybe a nice glass of sweet port wine, maybe, but otherwise, no sweet drinks for me, thank you. The Crystal Lite is not really sweet, at least not like the Crystal Lite Lemonade or some of the other mixes. But it's sweet, and it's sweet because it includes aspartame in its ingredients. Yes, I know. Aspartame equals cancer.

But here's a funny thing. Livestrong is the former drug-fueled bike-racing winner's charity. Its website gives an overall positive endorsement to the drink, but it does link to a couple of Aspartame sites, one of which attempts to dispel myths about the chemical.

But I am at the age where addiction—aspartame or codeine—won't have enough time to kill me. I didn't understand that until a few years ago. When I was in my 20s, I work part-time for a church, and one of the members was up in age and enjoyed a few pain-killers a day. I said, "Aren't you worried about getting addicted?" I can see now her point when she said, "No," and smiled. 

I've met a lot of folks over the years who needed a maintenance dose of something or other. An old man named Miller came into the insurance agency where I worked one day, and I could smell the whiskey. He'd traded pick-ups, and I said "Celebrating the new truck, Miller?" His reply was, "Nope, I take a little tot every mornin' to start off the day."

I think it was John Steinbeck who wrote about his grandmother and rum, or maybe some other spirit. She was a member of a Protestant sect that proscribed alcohol. Somehow the family doctor convinced her that a a shot of rum would help her with her rheumatism. Steinbeck wrote, here I'm paraphrasing, She was about eighty when she tried it, and never drew a sober breath the rest of her life.

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