No one on Earth is without fault. Every man, woman, child and some intelligent breeds of horse have vices. Some people drink too much, some people do cocaine and someone out there in this vast, beautiful world decided to make WikiFeet.com.
Even acclaimed blog authors such as myself are not immune to such vices. I don’t drink at all, I’ve never done cocaine, and foot fetishes confuse me—no, my vice is something much more sinister. I am helplessly, hopelessly and sadly addicted to caffeine.
Now, before you think to yourself “Ryan, everyone in college is addicted to caffeine, you’re stupid,” let me tell you that my caffeine issue is worse than that of the average college student. There’s one small thing that separates me from most college students buried under piles and piles of work.
I collect energy drink cans.
This post is effectively me coming out as a loser, so it might get depressing, whether that’s what I intended or not.
To begin, let’s back up—search for the root of the problem, if you will. First off, I went to college for four years. Millersville University of Pennsylvania, to be specific. I studied communications with an emphasis in public relations. I can’t confidently claim that my particular major inundates its students with more homework than every other. Every student thinks that his or her particular area of study is the hardest, most intensive, least conducive to the formation of a budding social life, etc. Public Relations was no different. Given the fact that I worked two jobs, was on the executive board of two organizations and took five classes, it wasn’t often that I got to bed before 2 or 3 a.m. Now, I know how this likely sounds to the people who are/were far more swamped with work than ol’ Ryan. This isn’t me complaining or saying how tough I had it or hoping that the a member of the Philadelphia Phillies sees this post and gets me a spring training invite. Not at all. This is merely outlining for you, the reader, why I often consumed multiple energy drinks in one day.
I am not, nor have I ever been a “morning person.” If you saw me pull myself out of bed at 6 a.m. you’d likely say to yourself “What is that angry, cursing, hungover homeless man doing sleeping in Ryan’s bed?” But luckily for me, someone, somewhere, invented coffee.
And so I would drink a cup or seven every morning as I got in the shower and got dressed and headed out to class. Then, before I knew it, it was 9 p.m. and the seductive mistress that is my bed would be calling my name. With homework to do and newspapers to lay out, I would turn to the slightly sedutive-er mistress called energy drinks. And so it was love at first taste.
In the spirit of non-chronological writing, I’ll jump back a bit further still to my junior year living in the now infamous 1605 Bookwood apartment. I had stopped drinking by this point (alcohol is a very good recipe for very bad decisions), but my caffeine habits were just beginning. If you wandered into my room (Room “C” to the layman/Student Lodging Inc. employees) you may note a few things. First, as my roommates were so keen to point out, it was well-organized and functional to the point that they referred to it as “Grandma’s room.” However, unlike your grandma’s room (I assume), the nightstand did not contain a copy of some shitty crime novel, an old alarm clock and a glass of water for dentures. It contained a bottle of 200 caffeine pills, a large box of caffeine gum, a sealed package of “military grade” (whatever that entails) caffeine powder, and a glass of water for dentures.
Energy drinks were not my only means of consuming caffeine, though they were the tastiest. So when my supply of caffeine gum ran out, the caffeine pills had been popped and the powder was deemed too bitter to be useful, I began drinking more and more energy drinks.
If you’ve been to a college house or a particularly shitty post-college house, you’ve probably seen a collection of beer/liquor bottles that the residents have collected. They usually line the tops of cabinets and send some sort of “look how much alcohol I drink” message to visitors who probably know how much alcohol they drink. But, as I said above, I do not drink alcohol. I had stopped by this point. So I said, half seriously, to my roommates “I should start collecting the energy drinks I drink.”
And so it began.
Fast forward to today and I have roughly 218 energy drink cans—all unique, most tasty, some dangerous—in the basement in my old college house.
I can’t say that it’s a cool thing to collect. I can’t say that anyone, ever has been impressed by it. But for some reason, there is a degree of pride that goes with having collected over 200 of anything, be it stamps, baseball cards or sugary over-priced drinks. When I made the 20-some hour drive down to Florida last summer with two of my best friends, I made sure to check every gas station we stopped at for what I called “rare e-drinks.” I pulled quite a few.
One story that truly puts my caffeine addiction into perspective details a trip to Big Lots about 8 months ago. I was with a friend of mine and figured I’d swing over by the drink aisle to check if there were any I didn’t have. My friend followed and watched in bewilderment as I began grabbing cans off of the shelf of Big Lots laughing hysterically to myself at having found six energy drinks that I had never had before.
Since leaving that house (and the drink collection), the addiction, though, hasn’t stopped. On a normal work day I get up at 5:15 a.m. I typically will have one cup of coffee while I make breakfast and another when I sit down to eat it. If you’re keeping count at home, that makes two cups of coffee. Try to follow. I’ve also taken to making my own home-made energy drink (this was physically and emotionally painful to type) to keep my caffeine need fulfilled without breaking the bank. The ingredients will remain a secret, though I can assure you it is certainly not just Kool-Aid, water, caffeine powder, taurine, ginseng and stevia mixed together.
On days that I don’t have caffeine my body goes into some sort of emergency shutdown mode. I see large, red “WARNING—CAFFEINE LEVELS DANGEROUSLY LOW” message across my vision until I can get to the mecca that is my coffee maker. It’s unhealthy, it’s debilitating, and it’s probably a turn-off to most women.
And so I’ve tried to cut back on caffeine, but to no avail. I did two projects regarding my consumption during my senior year, both for psychology classes. Both failed. For now, I need caffeine. Maybe one day caffeine will lessen its grip on my lifestyle and I’ll be able to wriggle away. However, today is not that day. Tomorrow probably isn’t either. But I will continue to try to lessen the intake every day in hope that my heart will not explode when I hit 40.
Here’s to living to 41.