Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vier Verruchte!

"Holy crap, there's posts listed under consecutive months on the timeline! Are you back for real?"

This the kind of question I might get if anyone sent me questions. I might get questions if I had a legit readerbase. I might have a legit readerbase if I did the bloggy things you're supposed to do, like include a giant list of blogs I read and websites I enjoy, so I'd have more links per page and get more favorable treatment from search engines. Yes, that's why everyone does that. Finally, if I did the things people are supposed to do to be successful, I might have a girlfriend and a successful career. A lot of things might be true if other things were true. And no, there's no regular posting schedule. There hasn't been much work this week. That's how it goes.

A Dirge for Four Loko
Much has been made of these beverages' demise. Personally I think it's a little more paternalistic over-reach from a government that's a little too eager to reach over, but this is hardly The Death of Liberty. That already happened when George Soros installed a Muslim in the White House. If they were really, truly, uniquely unsafe that would be one thing--but people have been mixing alcohol and caffeine forever. Quibbling over the amount (in milligrams!) of recreational drugs in essentially harmless consumer products? I don't see how that benefits society. I've had a couple Four Lokos, and would not recommend them to any human person, but this was my experience:

First, there is a hierarchy of flavors. I've sipped most of them; Blue Raspberry was the best, followed by Tangerine. Every one of them smells delicious when you pop the can; like fruit soda. Tasting it is different. I've never been a fan of Red Bull or other energy drinks, but it shared the sharp bite in flavor--you know, that weird kind of spiciness that might be from cinnamon or might be from chemicals not of this Earth. It's hard to tell. Every taste of Four Loko is an experience; a symphony in several parts. After the bite you get the flavor of the drink, which is basically that of a can of fruit soda with a touch of cough syrup. The Grape flavor tasted exactly like Dimetapp, which brought some nice childhood nostalgia. No matter what flavor you've selected, the second you try to swallow Four Loko will spring its little trap: a truly foul aftertaste that reminds you, "This is 12% alcohol!" and slithers down your throat like some kind of parasitic worm. I mean that in the best possible way. "I'll get used to it." No, you won't. Every single pull from the can will bring it back, as shocking and profound as the first time it touched your lips. The experience is almost bracing, like a blast of wind on the prow of a boat as it sails through an ocean of cough syrup.

That's the "good" flavors. I use the marks because Four Loko is fundamentally a Mexican drink. This isn't racist; it's reflected in the name, and most of the advertising I see is in Spanish. I saw garishly colored 24oz cans strewn around the local temp workers' depot (where dozens of Mexican laborers and hundreds of seagulls spend their days) long before I heard about kids going to the hospital. Mexican snacks are either weird-tasting and REALLY salty, or weird-tasting and REALLY sweet. Buy a bag of chips from your local Mexican convenience store and try to finish it. Point is, these things taste fuckin' weird under the best of circumstances. And sometimes you don't have the best of circumstances. Sometimes you have Watermelon or Fruit Punch.

These were the flavors at the absolute bottom of the totem pole. Watermelon was slightly better, so we'll start with that. It had all the structural hallmarks of Four Loko: the bite and the aftertaste and the stickiness, which are universal. The drink doesn't resemble an actual watermelon except insofar as they're both red. Imagine a person whose only experience with watermelons was that he had, as a child, once eaten a watermelon-flavored Jolly Rancher that had languished at the bottom of the school nurse's jar for years. That person formulated Watermelon Four Loko. I will say that while drinking this one, I began to appreciate the latent danger in these beverages. They're 24 ounces and four drinks, and between the lousy taste and vile aftertaste you really want to drink it as fast as humanly possible. Very easy to go overboard this way, especially if you've been pre-gaming. As for the Fruit Punch, I only sipped it. I should say this was the only one that didn't even smellgood. I don't really know how to describe the flavor; in the absence of human words to describe that vile brew I'll just use the Garth Algar formulation of "pralines and dick." The more I look at that, the more it works.

And the final chapter: aftermath. I consumed two whole cans over two separate evenings; one Watermelon and one Blue Raspberry. After the former, I was fucked up. I should note I was smoking pot on both these occasions. Honestly, I shouldn't even have to say that. I wasn't so much drunk as fucked up. My stomach felt weird, my head was simultaneously heavy and buzzing with caffeine. Time seemed to move very slowly. Eventually I went to bed and that was the end of it. On the second occasion, I had similar feelings of fucked-upness, though they weren't as pronounced and unpleasant. But when I went to bed...well, I had bizarre dreams.

I don't remember them really, but I kept waking up and falling asleep to the same things. At about 3am, I woke from some really harrowing apparition with awful stomach pain. I wasn't very sensible at that point, but I remember distinctly feeling like something was rotten inside of me. I went to the bathroom and returned to bed, and fell back into the same dreams. Trying to keep my eyes open, they started creeping into my waking state. I tried to fend it off and focus on my stomach, but eventually the dream becoming real was part of the dream--some character told me as much. When that happened, I realized my mind was really tied in knots and I needed to take action. Getting up from bed, I stumbled to the bathroom and knelt in front of the toilet. Never had to put my fingers down my throat, since I can usually will myself into vomiting if my stomach is upset. What came out was...well, it was blue raspberry. Whatever chemicals they use to flavor it didn't digest quickly. Nor the dye. What was most remarkable was the acidity; vomit is always pretty corrosive, but this went beyond anything I've ever felt in my throat. It was worse than bile. The burning at the time was awful, but for the next two days I couldn't swallow without serious pain--that's how bad it was. What came out of my mouth wasn't really vomit; it more closely resembled the acid blood of the monsters from Aliens. I'm surprised it didn't melt through the bottom of the toilet and down into the first floor. Once I was done puking, I went back to bed with my throat on fire but my stomach and mind at peace. The rest of the night passed without incident. That's how fucking toxic Four Loko is, apparently; it destroys your mind and burns your body.

By the way, the director's cut of Aliensis on Netflix on demand. One of the greatest action movies ever made, without exaggeration. Mechs, space marines and dual wielding! Can't do better. Two final administrative notes:
1) The title of this post is "Four Loko" in German, roughly. It's alliterative and way better. Surely that's got to be worth some money to somebody? Hmm?
2) I'll try and think up a good Christmas post, but happy holidays to everybody all the same.

Thanks for reading.

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