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March 14, 2003: K is for Kool-Aid

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Today was my turn to go fetch lunch, so at 11:30 I took the list of everyone's orders, a handful of twenties, and set off in my car in search of the nearest Taco Bell.

This required me driving through every stop light conceivable in whatever the heck part of Modesto I've been working in this week, and contenting myself with simply glaring evilly at all the people driving *less than* the speed limit in front of me.

As I was toodling along one of the roads toward my destination, I saw a sign that proclaimed that the plant I was passing was owned by Kool-Aid. Immediately the evil glaring at lame people who drive too slow stopped and I caught myself peering around, searching for any signs at all of the Kool-Aid cartoon talking pitcher. To my dismay, the only mention of Kool-Aid was the little sign itself, so I couldn't even tell which building was responsible for the stuff. But still. Suddenly Modesto took on a slightly different cast to me. I was driving around in the (well, one of the) place(s) where they make Kool-Aid!

I have been a Kool-Aid fan for as long as I can remember. And I remember back when Kool-Aid only came in a few flavors or colors red or purple. There was the cherry Kool-Aid that was sickeningly sweet and turned your tongue bright red, or there was the grape Kool-Aid which wasn't quite as sweet and turned your tongue a lovely shade of black. Both the sweetness and the added bonus of changing colors made for an instant attraction between us kids and Kool-Aid.

As I have gotten older, I can no longer stomach the sickly sweet taste of the red flavors. The only Kool-Aid I really ever drink anymore is grape, and that is because of our (yes, it is a bit strange) family tradition. So twice a year, I get to drink grape Kool-Aid, all in the name of holidays and family fun. Sometimes I am the one who makes it pouring the packet of powder into the old green plastic pitcher and trying not to inhale as it rises immediately out of the pitcher in a cloud of cloying sweetness to clog my lungs. It has to be stirred with a wooden spoon until the mixture swirls around in a perfect whirlpool inside the pitcher, and then served over ice so that it is completely cold. We eat our Thanksgiving turkey or our Christmas meatloaf, and sip our grape Kool-Aid. And we are all now too old to care that our tongues turn interesting shades of purple from the drink.

This has been an AlphaBytes entry.

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