Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Alternative Sources of Energy

You have to admit, even if you have never tried it, you’ve considered it.  The product claims are too attractive to be summarily dismissed.  It’s available at every checkout counter in America.  It’s convenient.  It’s cheap.  The bottle has pretty colors.  And what if it worked?

·         5 hours of energy from a small dose of flavored liquid
·         No crash later
·         Sugar free
·         Cheaper than coffee and without the dreaded “coffee breath”
·         Legal and safe

I have evolved over time into a 2 cup of coffee a day addict, an evolution that took place over a period of years.  A former college roommate turned me on to iced coffee which turned out to be my gateway drug into the hot morning cup of joe habit.  It was a gradual transition from a boy full of nature’s youthful energy and exuberance to a man slowed by the weight of family responsibilities and nature’s gravitational pull.  I was the same person, but more tired.  Damn gravity, holding me down.  Coffee kick started in my daily fight against malaise and inertia, and besides, it tasted good. 
Coffee is not without its negatives.  After a cup or two, a restroom nearby is required - quickly.  Unless you enjoy coffee straight up, which I do not, you always need both the coffee and the supplies to make it a delicious, familiar treat.  You need the right type of sweetner.  You need the right kind of creamer.  Frankly, being a morning coffee lover/addict can be a burden, on the coffee drinker as well as on the family members of the coffee drinker who once denied his regular fix can become – irritable…ok, borderline pathologically violent.  So I am open to an alternate pick-me-up, an emotional and intellectual anti-gravity potion with all the coffee upside without the coffee downside.

When the student is ready the master will appear. 

Slick ads on TV and radio are one thing.  A personal testimonial from an unbiased acquaintance is something else.  On a recent camping trip, a friend was downright effusive with his praise of 5 Hour Energy and its miraculous restorative powers.  He confirmed for me that every marketing claim that the company makes is absolutely factual.  In fact, another camper overheard our conversation and added her affirmation of this wonder drug.  Once I scrapped together $2.59 and found me a 7-11, I was ready to become a patient. 
A day later, my first purchase of 5 Hour Energy brought an unexpected amount of anxiety.  It felt as if the transaction should not be legal.  All that energy in one little bottle at the convenience store checkout, displayed between the lottery tickets, the rolling papers and the prepaid calling cards?  Worse than feeling somehow illegal, buying that little bottle seemed to be an admission of weakness.  I felt that other customers were staring at me thinking, “That guy gets tired easily.  Poor bastard needs daddy’s little helper.  I wonder what other potions he takes to restore his vigor?”  I wanted my little purchase wrapped in a plain brown wrapper to disguise my embarrassment, but asking for the bag would be an admission of guilt.  I quickly stashed it in my pocket and left.  Keep the change.

I took the little bottle to work, closed my office door and looked at the ingredients.  It looked harmless enough, in fact so harmless that I was certain that it could not work which at $2.59 per bottle would make me more irritable than missing my morning cup of coffee for a week. 

Despite the glowing unsolicited recommendation of the fellow camper, I had lingering skepticism.  Maybe it wouldn’t work the same way for me.  Maybe his recommendation was so effusive that my expectations were outside the gravitational pull of reality.

The movie Limitless with Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro is about a guy who takes some sort of pill and becomes smarter, stronger, better looking.  I have not seen the movie, but this was the promise of 5 Hour Energy.  Better, stronger, faster.  Success, accomplishment and happiness in just a few fluid ounces.  (In college, we called this a six pack).  Memories of my Freshman Psychology class and the lecture on the placebo effect were dancing in my head.  This stuff could be harmless and useless, but thanks to my lofty expectations alone, I would conquer the world, or at least not fall asleep at my desk around 2:30 PM.

Here is my personal 5 hour diary on the restorative powers of the miracle drug that is 5 Hour Energy:

Hour One – Rockin’ and focused.
Hour Two – Feel no different than any other day.  Maybe I need to move around some.
Hour Three - Not impressed, but not falling asleep either.
Hour Four – I wonder if I should go running this evening.
Hour Five – No crash, but was I ever speeding?  If my hands aren’t shaking, how do I know if it is working?

Will I try the stuff again?  Of course.  I bought sea monkeys and X-ray glasses more than once, so why would I give up on the promise of 5 Hour Energy after one inconclusive experiment?  The allure of 5 focused hours of pure energy is too great to pass up.  I want to be Limitless just like Bradley Cooper.

The bottom line on my foray into the fountain of youth is this:  It didn’t kill me but it didn’t make me stronger.  Maybe I’ll try the magic elixir again, but not until after the NHL playoffs are over.  It could be that staying up to watch the L.A. Kings win West Coast games is more than the little bottle could overcome.

Or maybe I could just go to bed at a decent time.  Until then, it’s morning cafĂ© au lait!

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