How Much Is a Diet Coke Worth?

Ester: Hi Meaghan! Happy May.

Meaghan:Hello! Yes it’s so nice out. I wore a dress with no leggings to the doctor this morning and was suddenly reminded that thigh chafe exists. Spring at last!

Ester: Spring! And what better way to celebrate than GOING TO THE MOVIES.

Meaghan: It’s a beautiful day to sit indoors.

Ester: It’s always a beautiful day to sit indoors. That’s the magic of cinema. But — and this is the saddest part about being a parent, so beware — I don’t get to do it that much anymore.

Meaghan: But when you do, do you really DO IT UP? i.e., spend $1,000 on popcorn?

Ester: For a long time, and I mean about 10 years, Ben and I had these movie passes to AMC. We bought them in bulk back when he was a law student at NYU; they were $5.50 each *and* came with free popcorn. It was the best ever. It allowed us to be cheap AND YET still enjoy popcorn at the movies!

Meaghan: $5.50 is amazing! Because of the student discount? I don’t go to the movies that often even now, whoops, but when I do I usually just buy the overpriced refreshments anyway. It feels like the ultimate luxury — cue flashbacks to that particular shame of childhood where you’d try to cough over the sound of your contraband can of grocery store coke opening.

Ester: Oh yes. Sometimes I feel bad, because I tend to go to little neighborhood theaters like Cobble Hill Cinemas, and I know they make their money by selling overpriced food and drink. But especially if I go to a Loews or something, I will definitely bring a bottle of Diet Coke in with me in my purse. My addiction requires me to ingest DC at every opportunity, but even I can’t stomach paying $3.00 for a cup.

Meaghan: Oh my god I used to have the DC addiction so bad.

Ester: Please don’t tell me you’ve quit. I hate when people tell me they’ve quit. Worse is when they tell me to quit.

Meaghan: Listen there are worse things to be addicted to, I say live your life. BUT YES I QUIT I’M SORRY. Anyway but nothing tastes as good as Diet Coke from the um, soda jerk thing. I feel like you pay for the magic of how good it tastes with the popcorn.

Ester: That’s so true. I have to battle my addiction — or rather, my instinctive cheapness battles with my addiction constantly, and I’m just kind of a sidelined observer wondering who’s going to win this time. At times I’ve come up with rules for myself: I will only spend x amount per drink, or per week. For a while, when Mike and I first worked together actually, I would only spend $1.25 – $1.50 every other day. So I would buy one bottle from a street vendor and split it over two days.

Meaghan: A sideline observer to your addiction sounds very zen. And spending only x amount on Diet Coke as a way to justify your dependence on it, hmm, sounds like Mike enabled you. Ha.

Ester: Oh totally. He was always game to come with me on my jaunts. It was my/our version of a cigarette break. Sometimes you just need to get out of the office, you know?

Meaghan: Oh I know! That is one thing about working in an office I kind of miss: the feeling of freedom when you sneak out onto the street to go get a coffee or lunch or something. Which is sad but so real.

Ester: So is there anything you love enough that you’ve had to make rules for yourself in terms of how much you will let yourself spend on it?

Meaghan: Hmmmmm. I am sitting here thinking. I guess I don’t love anything enough? Or the things I would spend money on — clothes, eating out, trips I guess? — I don’t really let myself do much of anyway. I guess it’s like, “Okay we went out to dinner last night, we have to not do it again for a few days.” Or like I can not buy another ONESIE from the Baby Gap for a month. There us not a concrete amount though.

Ester: Wow. How many onesies have you bought? (You know to buy big, right? Cause they grow out of the “newborn” size suuuuuper fast.)

Meaghan: Yes I am buying like 3-6 mo or 6 mo. Not that many! I feel like it’s so dumb to spend money on a thing he will wear for two weeks. I have probably bought like…8 things? On sale?

Ester: That is very restrained! My friends threw me a onesie decorating partie which was one of the best things anyone’s ever done for me. They brought plain white onesies of all sizes and then made them so awesome, with puff paints and creativity, that I ended up saving them. They will live forever! (In a drawer. Or maybe Lara will use them for an art project someday.)

Meaghan: I wonder if Lara will become addicted to Diet Coke. Hah. No there will probably be something else by then. Some kind of pill.

Ester: Want to see a terrifying picture?

Meaghan: YES.

Ester: BAD MOTHER oh well. She knows that I like it so she loves pretending to drink it. She will fish the bottles out of the recycling and “drink” them for me so that I will laugh and groan and hug her and hate myself all at once. Parenting is the biggest, scariest mirror life will ever make you hold up to yourself.

Meaghan: Ha! That is adorable. And somewhere a Diet Coke ad exec is shedding a single tear.

But back to the movies, or ridiculous costs of things in context. I think when something has an absurd of painful price I try to rephrase it to myself as a question. Like, Okay $5.00 for a Diet Coke is insane. But would I pay someone $5.00 for a Diet Coke right now? If the answer is yes, and I have $5.00, then yes. Or like with taking a cab to the airport. It feels extravagant to me — $30 or whatever when taking the train and Airtrain would be $7.50. But would I, at 5 a.m., pay someone $22.50 to be able to sleep another hour? Yes, maybe.

And what if you were abroad somewhere and hadn’t had a Diet Coke in awhile and really wanted one, how much would you be willing to pay to get it?! Or would your principles win out?

Ester: Principles! I also will not steal it ever. Like, coworkers of mine — not Mike, obvs — used to go to Chipotle, ask for a water cup, and then fill the cup up with soda. I was horrified.

Meaghan: Oh my god yes I am too Catholic for that. I’d be afraid of “getting in trouble” even though that is not really a thing when you’re an adult.

Ester: Well, I’m not sure anyone would arrest you, or kick out of a Chipotle, for stealing $.75 of soda, but they could. And then you’d never get to be president.

Meaghan: Ha. Or they’d be like, Miss, why are you stealing Diet Coke? And I would cry and want to die of shame. So I guess mine aren’t principles so much as fear-based.

Ester: Eh, most people’s principles are fear-based, when you get down to it. They’re how you know you have SOME limits. I used to have many more limits, too. Once while backpacking with a friend we were unreasonably convinced that we would be better people if we could keep our expenses to an artificial low, something like $500 total. So we put ourselves through lots of inconveniences we could have easily avoided through spending small sums of money. But the principle! Somehow the principle of the thing was worth the inconvenience.

Meaghan: Plus bragging rights. But yeah for so long the question for me has been, “Can I afford this?” And the resounding no kept me from spending money on things like movie theater Diet Coke. But now the question just changes to like, “Well how ridiculous is it to pay $5.00 for a Diet Coke?” Or “Am I willing to spend $5.00 on Diet Coke at this particular moment?” or, “How much of an asshole am I for paying $5.00 for Diet Coke when I could smuggle it in in my bag for $1.99?”

Ester: For a long time I had a hard time finding clothes that fit me. Once that became easier, though, I still had the feeling that if anything looked even remotely right on me, I should buy it immediately, and I had to stop myself. Scarcity, or the perception of it, plays interesting tricks on the brain.

Meaghan: Totally. Like when I am eating ice cream and am eating it as if there may never be more ice cream in the world so I better eat it NOW.

Ester: But that is exactly how one SHOULD eat ice cream. :)

Meaghan: See, principles!

Ester: Enjoy your warm weather, improved economy, and ice cream, everyone!

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17 Comments / Post A Comment

Allison (#4,509)

“How much would you pay for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup after three months in Australia with none?” The answer was like $3? for two pack. WORTH EVERY PENNY THAT AUSTRALIA NO LONGER USES.

I love movie theater popcorn with fake butter and all. The drinks I’ll smuggle in (and spike), but that popcorn is half the point of going to a theater.

@Allison Yes for me movie theater popcorn is totally the point! But I do smuggle in my own water and Nestle Bunch a Crunch to add to my popcorn.

shannowhamo (#845)

@Allison I require a fountain diet soda for movies so smuggling is hard. I also never think to spike my drinks since we’re usually going to what my husband calls a “drinkin’ theater” where they bring you food and drinks. While sometimes I don’t even have food or drinks beyond a soda and popcorn, the seats are always much more comfortable and you aren’t piled on top of each other like a regualr megaplex.

I have not quit sodas but I have cut down considerably. McDonalds where I don’t eat at all aside from the occasional dipped cone) has $1 any size drink so I don’t even feel guilty spending the money! I too have gone to an “every other day” model of soda drinking and I feel like it’s better than when I drank a whole 12 pack in a day.

thegirlieshow (#5,285)

@shannowhamo Every other day seems to be my baseline as well. Former diet coke addicts unite.

lisaf (#3,089)

Oh man, I have so many rules like this. One is “no buying Tropicana unless is it $3.50 or less. Otherwise you don’t need orange juice”. (I had to raise it… the rule used to be $3.00 when I lived in a different city, but new city is more expensive and OJ never hits sub-3)

pearl (#153)

Best thigh chafe solution: Monistat SootTing Care Chafing Relief Powder-Gel, 1.5-Ounce Tube by Monistat http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0012ZNSWE/ref=cm_sw_r_udp_awd_vehztb1DG4AHB

Don’t be put off by the Monistat. This shit smooth.

shannowhamo (#845)

@pearl I have yet to find a sufficient thigh chafe solution for my thunder thighs and I have tried them all. The Monistat just rubbed off immediately on me, barely helped at all. But I had heard it’s also an excellent makeup primer. I have had more luck with Body Glide but it’s like a roll-on deodorant so you can’t keep it anywhere too hot and I had a stick of it just open up in my purse and cover everything with white goop; this is a case where the tube of Monistat is better for transport. I recently also tried TriGlide which is a spray that works okay but I’m never sure if I’m applying it correctly, it kinda drips everywhere but does seem to be working. I ALSO just recently tried Bandelettes- these lace bands (like the top of thigh highs) that you wear on your thighs; they seem promising but I got them in the wrong size. I WILL beat chub rub because I have huge thighs and love wearing dresses!!!

puncturedbicycle (#6,569)

@shannowhamo Corn starch? This works really well for me, admittedly better in, er, crevices where it won’t just rub right off.

Renleigh (#2,110)

@shannowhamo I don’t know if anyone’s still checking this thread, but BIKE SHORTS. All the comfort of leggings and all the joy of feeling the breeze on your legs. I got a couple of two-packs of Danskin bike shorts from the Walmart website and they are life (thigh?) savers.

Meaghano (#529)

@Renleigh I was coming here to say 1. MY PEOPLE and 2. last year I did the bike shorts route and it was the only true safeguard. I am going to look into this other stuff too.

Adouble (#4,640)

I’d joke that the Billfold turned into a mommy blog so gradually I didn’t even notice, but it’s been a very rapid descent. I don’t mind the Billfold changing it up and taking things in a new direction, but this feels like many other blogs out there.

DarlingMagpie (#1,695)

@Adouble You know, it is possible to integrate mothers into regular day to day life, i.e. on the Billfold, instead of segretating them to mommy communities because god forbid they mention the fact that they are raising a child and shall now be dubbed MOMMY BLOGGER.

This post was hilarious for anybody ever in the thrall of diet coke.

littleoaks (#1,801)

@Adouble Disagree, the Billfold turned into a daddy blog after a couple of Josh Michtom’s pieces ran.

halloliebchen (#5,373)

Thigh chafe is the bane of my summer existence.

ThatJenn (#916)

Mmmm, Diet Coke. I kicked it in 2012 but it’s been gradually finding its way back into my life.

margosita (#5,134)

The best Diet Coke I ever had was when I was living abroad for the first time, studying in Spain in college. After a few months it occurred to me that the McDonald’s in the small city where I was might have real DC (NOT that Coca-Cola Light BS). And from the fountain no less! It was like the heavens opened up and angels sang.

I’m down to a single can of DC now, most days. I honestly don’t know how I’d make it past the 2pm office-day-job slump without it.

@fo (#839)

Ester: “Like, coworkers of mine — not Mike, obvs — used to go to Chipotle, ask for a water cup, and then fill the cup up with soda. I was horrified.”

Reminds me of this guy:

http://thebillfold.com/2013/10/rental-car-bureaucracy-conned-me-out-of-an-absurd-amount-of-money/

Did he work with you and Mike, too?

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