I know it’s all bad news lately, so I hate to add to all of the nattering. But it appears to me that things are worse than we are giving them credit for. You may have heard about the energy crisis we’re facing. Well, turns out we have not one, but two energy crises to deal with. There’s that one with all the oil and the well-dressed royal families and the thing where you shouldn’t leave the refrigerator door open. You knew about that one. But also there’s the one where no one has enough energy to get through the day now. When did that happen?
I think I understand coffee. Never tried it myself, but I can understand how you might want a little pick me up as you’re driving in to work in the morning, just to get the gears creaking into action again. It’s been widespread enough for long enough that most people don’t question it. Around my area you see diet coke stepping in as the wake up call of choice, but it’s all the same thing.
But coffee and DC aren’t cutting it anymore. I first started seeing signs of escalation when I was in law school. A girl came to class with a bottle of water, but it wasn’t just water, it was called something like “Water Joe,” and it had all of the cool, clean transparency of water, but all of the caffeine of a full shot of espresso. Then, as now, the coffee outsider, I asked why such a thing would be necessary. She said coffee is hard on the stomach, and water is better. Huh. As long as the energy remains the same.
Since then, the arms race has taken off like nothing we’ve seen since the great bagel proliferation of the mid-90’s. The soft drink moguls snatched up all of the easy real estate first, peddling tough guy drinks with embarrassingly silly ads and eye-grabbing packaging. The Red Bulls and Rock Stars and Monsters staked out the territory and the world moved on, assuming this was a niche market, and the niche was now filled.
But it hasn’t stopped there. The smoothies followed, with their bee pollen, ginseng, and hydro-ginkgo-garlic supplements (did I leave out biloba? I never know where that fits in). Creative capitalists came up with strange bottles of pills that could be shilled right on the convenience store counter. This new wave carved out a space somewhere between pharmaceuticals and magic potions. And apparently there’s no regulatory agency in charge of monitoring pure energy, because it’s all still out there, and it’s all still promising instant pep. Now, at the very height of the race for the next best form of ingestible, digestible liveliness, you might justifiably conclude that there’s more raw energy lining the shelves inside the gas station than bubbling underneath it. You might even be right.
Behind it all is the assumption, implicit but invisible, that we are all really, really tired. Are we? Are you? That’s the apparent crisis, and it sounds crazy, but I swear it’s starting to look like there’s as much money in solving this energy crisis as there is in solving the other one.
I guess I sort of am tired, but it’s not really something I’d look to solve with a really tall can of something. Maybe I’m missing out? As we prepared for a trial a while ago, someone on our legal team walked in and passed around some tastefully designed little boxes of mints. Energy mints. Vim and vigor with a spunky citrus kick.
I carried my box around all week but I couldn’t take the plunge. It kind of scared me to think what was in those little mints. Could they really power my big huge lurching organic machine of a body? I still don’t know. I do know that after that trial I was completely wrung out. A little energy would have helped. I chose to just get some more sleep afterward, but maybe I should have just downed that box of mints. I threw them down my gas tank instead, and I’ve been leaving people in a cloud of citrus exhaust ever since.