I have a confession to make - I love soda pop. OK, it’s not really love, it’s more like I crave or desire soda pop many times a day. You can call it whatever you want - soda, pop, Coke ... it doesn’t matter to me. I call it the nectar of the gods. I start my morning with two cans of Diet Mountain Dew and end my night with a glass of Diet Whatever Is On Sale at Wal-Mart. In between, there will be the occasional bottle or glass of soda pop as well. Hi, my name is Kevin Henry, and I am addicted to carbonated beverages (everyone respond with a very monotone “Hi Kevin”).
Yes, it’s a vice. Yes, dental editors shouldn’t be addicted to soda pop. Yes, I should drink more water. I know all of these things - but I can’t give up my soda pop. Well, maybe I shouldn’t say that. I gave up soda pop once for Lent (Ash Wednesday until Easter in the Christian belief). That was a long, long, long 40 days. Have you seen those Bud Light commercials featuring the daredevil who stays at work until 5:01 p.m. on a Friday and his buddies have to rush in with a Bud Light to save him? Well, insert me for him and my daughter with a Diet Pepsi for the buddies and the beer and you’ll understand how Easter morning was at our house that year.
With that, I’ve made my confession and you now know the name of the siren who calls me from the shore. So it really shouldn’t surprise you to know that one of my favorite things about summertime in Tulsa, Okla., is the 59-cent quart fountain drink at QuikTrip convenience stores. Ah, there is much rejoicing when those signs appear all over the place around Memorial Day. Forget the cookouts and trips to the lake. When I see the 59-cent signs for QuikTrip, I know summer has begun.
And the beauty of QuikTrip stores? They’re open 24 hours a day. I can drop in on my way to or from work (yes, I often go back to work after 10 p.m. I’m much more productive when it’s completely quiet in the office). QuikTrip is also open when I’m leaving on an early morning flight, so a stop there for a 32-ounce drink is routine. There’s a QuikTrip between my office and the airport, so there’s just no way I can avoid stopping, right? Well, on the morning of Aug. 10, I pulled into QuikTrip at 4 a.m., got my 32 ounces of Diet Dr. Pepper, and headed to the airport. Life was good.
I had enjoyed a couple of gulps when I reached the counter to check my bags to San Francisco. That’s when I was told the bad news ... I had to drink or dump the soda before going through security. She went on to explain the events of the morning thus far in London and how 21 people had been arrested in an attempt to detonate 10 planes heading for the U.S., killing hundreds of people. They were going to use liquids they brought onto the plane in carry-on bags to blow up planes over the Atlantic Ocean, so no liquids of any kind (makeup, lotion, toothpaste, drinks, etc.) were being allowed on the plane. I stood there in disbelief, and got a little queasy when I walked over to the TV monitor and watched CNN. “Officials say they have stopped another 9/11,” the commentator said. Another 9/11? The thought turned my stomach. This month marks the fifth anniversary of that horrific day, and I don’t think anyone will ever forget what they were doing when the Twin Towers fell.
I didn’t drink any more soda that morning. I threw it away as I walked toward security. I didn’t feel like drinking any more. It’s amazing the sick people who think of how to invoke fear and terror on innocent people. It’s amazing - and scary - the ways that they try to take away our freedoms and cripple our nation. Those are the thoughts I had as I watched CNN, and those are the thoughts I still have as I fly to San Francisco and write this.
But, at the same time, I am thankful that there are people out there like the inspectors in London who stopped this attack. I am thankful there are troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the globe who are trying to stop terror before it starts. Our world has changed a lot in five years, and I guess today I’m a little more thankful that I have the freedom to stop at QuikTrip and get a soda. It’s a freedom I took for granted today. I won’t tomorrow.
Right now, as we descend toward the San Francisco airport, I’m thankful for the freedom I have to travel, worship, and enjoy life the way that I please. Despite its faults, I’m thankful for this country and what it means - and I am extremely grateful to the men and women throughout the world who risk their lives to keep our country great and free. I raise my soda to all of them.
Read on, this is your magazine...
Kevin Henry, Editor