Every time I order from my local Chinese take out place (which is often, I have a fried chicken wing addiction) they include a free can of grape soda.
I’ve tried asking them not to. I don’t drink soda that often and when I do, it’s never sugary florescent purple stuff. But when I say “no grape soda,” they somehow think I’m ordering grape soda. And when that happens, I get two cans: one I pay for and one that they insist on giving me. They must really think I love that stuff.
Which, of course, must be why they get so confused on the rare occasions they understand I’m saying no grape soda. They get so sad. “NO grapesodaaa?” And I feel like I’ve wronged them. So of course, the first time that happened, I relented. My words echo in my mind to this day. “Oh no, it’s ok, you can give me the grape soda.” And then the nice old man on the phone laughed as if we’d shared some sort of private joke.
That should’ve given me a hint of what was to come. The next time I tried to request no grape soda, desperately, he recognized my voice and he understood me. God help me, he understood the words I said, but he laughed off my request like some cosmically funny inside joke that the two of us had created together. “Ah yes, ‘no’ grape soda,” he said with a wink that I could hear over the phone.
Nooooo! I screamed (in my head). “I mean it, no grape soda.” “Ok, ok,” he replied, sounding tired of “our” joke but committed to humoring me. When I got my order, I knew what I would find. A pristine, frosty cartoon purple can tucked to one side of my greasy bag of food.
Desperate and running out of fridge space (because I guiltily stored every can I got), I tried a new tactic. I started ordering gingerale. I was hopeful that they’d match the free soda to the one I ordered. But no. More grape soda.
At this point I’d run out of shelf space. I was starting to stack bright purple cans on top of each other, to fit in the fridge. I started offering them to people. This destroyed both friendships and my foodie cred. How could I be offering this stuff to people?
The truth was, I didn’t know what else to do. I had tried every possible way of refusing them, short of throwing the cans at the innocent delivery man when he brought my order. So one day, I gave in and did this.
Might as well start enjoying them however I can. Olé!