Tom Martin: To all the pops I’ve loved before

Tom Martin

Another one bites the dust. Another vice that is.

My vices are dwindling and now so are my teeth.

My mouth isn’t what you’d call dentist-friendly — I’ve had some work done. Two weeks ago I had a tooth, No. 18 to be exact, giving me some trouble. And by trouble I mean skull-splitting pain.

After a week of living in the fog of painkillers, an oral surgeon separated me from old No. 18.

In the meantime, my dentist told me to stop drinking pop. To some people this would be no big thing, but I’ve had a long and cherished relationship with the soda industry. It completed me.

Not only do I like pop, but I’m a high-brow drinker. Don’t dirty my palate with ice, I’ll take mine neat, and out of the original container. I prefer it out of the old glass bottles. Cans are next best. Pop out of plastic just isn’t as good, especially those dreadful 2 liter bottles. Yuk.

I missed my calling as a pop critic. Before we were married, my wife-to-be thought I had a screw loose when I first explained that not all pops are created equal. One can of Coke doesn’t taste the same as the next. There are subtle differences, usually more or less carbonation. She married me anyway.

And I imagine she’d rather have a husband who doesn’t have to gum his way through the rest of his years, so I’ll heed the dentist’s advice. 

But I’m not giving up this bad habit without proper adieu.

Cue the Willie Nelson song “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before,” except substitute pop for girls. Hum this and imagine a photo montage of me from childhood to now swigging different sodas through good times and bad.

Orange Crush was my first pop of choice, my childhood favorite. It came in 12-ounce clear, big-shouldered bottles for 12 cents (OK, I’m ancient.) out of the machine in front of my home-town superette.

(Still humming? ... “Who traveled in and out my door.”)

Then, in my teens, I moved on to Pepsi — yes, I was part of the “generation.”

And later, Dad and I locked onto Mountain Dew. Actually, I’m old enough to remember when this soda hit the market. It originally featured a hillbilly firing a rifle, with the slogan: “Ya-hooo! Mountain Dew. It’ll tickle yore innards.” (Note the hip hillbilly spelling of “yore.”) Of course, by the 1980s Mountain Dew became the tire-swing-over-the-creek drink before marketing to bungee jumpers and skate boarders. Maybe the cork-popping, rifle-firing image was a little too kitsch for the ages.

Anyway, for a few years, my dad and I repelled all other soft drinks in favor of the Dew.

(“And every time I tried to stay ...”)

During my college days I slummed with RC Cola, and in my mid-20s I had a tryst with Vess Soda, grape in particular. (The purple tongue gave me away.)

(“I’m glad they came along. I dedicate this song.”)

From then on I was a Coke man. I fought off the diet pop as long as I could. Finally, when I was bloated like a toad from fast food and soda, a co-worker told me he switched to diet pop and lost 10 pounds.

Instantly, I was a Diet Coke man. I only lost six pounds, though. Plus, I’ve supposedly damaged my brain with a decade’s worth of artificial sweetener. Good times.

So, it’s probably best that I quit while I can still eat steak and find my way home. What was that song we’re supposed to be humming?

All I know is my innards need tickled.

Tom Martin is editor of The Register-Mail. Contact him at or call 343-7181, Ext. 250.