how i lost an imaginary fight between two other people

I wrote on Tuesday about feeling an embarrassing desire to drink a Pepsi after I heard a compelling interview with Pepsi Co.’s VP of marketing. Then yesterday, before going up to Bob’s apartment to watch a movie off the List (moviepicture n.470, Le Samourai; it was pretty good), I went to the Cuban restaurant across from his apartment, Sergio’s, and I got a Cuban sandwich that wasn’t unreasonably priced, at $8, but then I saw that they had this display of dew-dappled, glistening, electric blue Pepsi cans on ice, looking beautiful and refreshing and sweet, and I was like, “Fuck it, round the meal up,” and so I asked the cashier to add a can of Pepsi to the order.

            I looked at the figures as things got rung up on the register and saw that a can of Pepsi costs $2.50.

            I said, “A can of Pepsi costs $2.50?”

            She said, “Yeah.”

            I said, “A can of Pepsi costs $2.50?”

            And she shrugged and I realized I was being a dick to be on the brink of grilling a cashier about the price of something and so I said sorry for that attitude-y question, told her I was just surprised, and she gave me a kinda cringing nod and said, “Yeah, it’s expensive,” and so I didn’t get the Pepsi.

I should mention in all this griping, though, that the Cuban sandwich I got at Sergio’s was fucking incredible and you should definitely have one (and no they’re not endorsing this).

            But afterward I went to the 7-11 a block away because I’d told Bob I would bring up a bag of chips or something for the movie—and even though I wasn’t really craving a Pepsi, I was thinking about Pepsi, more so than I’d been thinking about it prior to the standoff at Sergio’s. And so I bought (reluctantly) a 20 oz Pepsi for the price of what a can would’ve cost me at Sergio’s—and then felt, along with my remorse, a weird triumph about it, and almost wanted to walk all the way back to Sergio’s and gloat about how I’d bested them by getting it for cheap—but then I realized that really, in the scheme of things, I was the loser here. Because I didn’t even really want this soda, I was just kinda curious, and then I went to flippantly add one to a meal and got riled about the price and so in retaliation against the retailer I went and bought the same product from another retailer down the street…

            But here’s something more toxic than a soda: why am I looking at everything as a competition? Here I’ve been inviting a corporation into some kind of imaginary monetary standoff whereby I’m telling myself there’s a Winner and a Loser. Like if they’ve successfully marketed themselves to me so that I buy this beverage, they have become the Winner and I have become the Loser. If Sergio’s had coerced me into forking over $2.50 for a can of soda, they would have Beaten Me (seriously, though, let’s not downplay the absurdity of charging $2.50 for a can of soda).

            Finally, though, if anything’s the Problem here, it’s me.

[Editor’s Note: I feel dutybound to mention that the Cuban sandwich I got at Sergio’s was fucking terrific and I bigtime recommend it.]

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