OK, yes. I s'pose so. At least that's what my friends have said when I told them I have a quart-a-day Red Bull habit. They also said: "OMG," and "I can't believe you're not dead." But really it doesn't seem like that much when you're drinking it. I mean, two 160z cans. Or a 20oz and a 12oz. Or four 8oz cans. It sounds like so little. You can get nearly a quart of soda in a single-serving cup at nearly any fast food joint. So what's the big deal, right?
Well it turns out that not only is Red Bull among the more expensive energy drinks out there, it has a bit of a nasty rep. Seems that huge amounts of the drink's touted chemical, taurine, can (at worst) mess with your heart rhythms, or (at best) cause your body to forget how to make taurine on its own. And there are other problems, like sugar crashes. The amount of Red Bull I was consuming daily is like draining half a small jug of maple syrup. That's in addition to thr maple syrup I eat at breakfast.
I recently combined an empty stomach with a quart of Red Bull and followed that with a hot shower (which boosts blood pressure, increases circulation and gooses insulin levels). Result: the worst sugar crash I've had in sobriety. I actually had to take a knee and swill half a Coke to steady myself.
So, today I decided not to have any Red Bull at all. Zip. Zero. Cold fucking turkey. (Now, be aware, I am NOT quitting caffeine, JUST Red Bull. So I allowed myself an espresso frap from Big Daddy Starbucks this afternoon.) But the point is, I didn't have any Red Bull today. Having learned the value of "one day at a time" the hard way, I can say that even this small step is a victory.
So I invite you to come along on my Red Bull withdrawal journey as I trek thru what will surely be an extravaganza of jello-brained misadventures punctuated by attacks of narcolepsy.
You wake in a windowless office--there is a computer monitor a few feet away. Images flash across it: some are photographs, some are maps, others paintings, or etchings, some your brain cannot decode before another set of images supplants them. A voice conveyed through a speaker above your head asks you what you are feeling. "Thirsty," you reply. You feel a small but distinct shock pass through your body. It is then you notice you cannot move your arms, they are strapped to the arms of your desk chair. In fact, your entire body is strapped to the chair. "Try again," says the voice, "what are you feeling?" This time you give no answer. A second, more severe shock shakes your body. Again the voice repeats the question. This time you answer quickly. "Fear," you say. "I feel afraid." "Good," says the voice, "very good." Suddenly you are aware of something. You are hanging upside down, nude, under bright lights. Something large and strong holds you by the ankles. You try to wriggle free but cannot. It is hard to catch your breath. Something strikes you sharply, twice, in the buttocks and you begin to cough. Again you hear the voice. "Congratulations," it says, "it's a boy."
Breath like a horse’s breath, pushing clouds of steam into the winter night, he pauses at the tree line, just beyond the probing eyes of the tower lights. He thinks he might vomit, then reins in the urge. The state line is 12 miles west, 12 miles of snow, rock scree and roots. Gathering his breath, he starts again, this time at a light run, pegging his way through the saplings. To keep going, he thinks of a girl he knew in high school, she smelled of sour bread and had this big red mouth. He had loved kissing that mouth, sliding his fingers around the snaps on her brassiere. The sirens have begun to haunt the trees now, but when he slows his footfalls to listen, he cannot hear the dogs, or the slap of chopper blades. 12 miles. Marie. Marie something. No, that wasn’t it. The woods are thick but the trees young and flexible. Only 2 more hours of darkness. A house. Or is it just a trick of shadows? No, it’s a house, all the lights out. A place to stop, to rest, maybe even eat. He approaches slowly, sees no car. The back door is unlocked. He steps through, trying to muffle his footfalls against floor planks. Inside, a simple kitchen, a coffee mug, bowl, spoons in the sink. He makes his way to the livingroom, flops into the plaid-print easy chair, and closes his eyes. The sirens have stopped. There is a click. He knows the sound. His eyes snap open to see an old man, clad only in underwear and holding a deer rifle. For a moment, there is silence. An awful shriek of silence. He looks at the old man’s skin, blue-white in the snowlight. Her name was Marsha. Why did he remember that now? The gun barks its answer.