Have you ever wanted to do something that you basically couldn’t care less about, just because someone told you that you couldn’t?
Ingrid and I just signed up for this Soda Club thing: a “make your own sparkling water” gizmo with replaceable CO2 cartridges. A keen idea, and one we’re very excited about: we drink a ton of fizz water, and we’ve been going through a ton of plastic fizz water bottles every week. (Yes, we recycle them; but with plastic especially, it’s much better if you can just avoid buying the stuff in the first place.) This gizmo will cut our plastic consumption by a considerable amount. Plus, we can have as much fizz water as we want, whenever we want it, without suffering the miserable indignity of going to the store or waiting for our next grocery delivery.
But here’s the thing. One of the instructions on the Soda Club soda maker says that you should not carbonate anything other than plain water.
And the moment I read that, I was immediately filled with a powerful desire to carbonate things that I shouldn’t.
I now want to carbonate everything. Coffee. Soy milk. Orange juice. Bourbon. Absinthe. I want to go through our entire liquor cabinet and carbonate everything in it. I want to make my own sparkling wine, just by taking regular sparkling wine and carbonating it. I want to go to the supermarket and find a bunch of weird beverages, just so I can carbonate them. I want to buy a second carbonating gizmo, just so I can try to carbonate weird stuff without mucking up the one we use for water.
Now, it’s important to understand: Before we got this gizmo and read this warning, the thought that it might be fun to carbonate coffee or bourbon had never, ever occurred to me. Not once. If you had asked me, “Would you like to carbonate some coffee?”, or, “On your list of things you would like to do before you die, where does ‘carbonate coffee’ fit?”, I would have looked at you like you were nuts.
But now I’m the one who’s nuts. This is driving me mildly batty. I really want to know what carbonated coffee would taste like. I’m sure I’ll forget about this in a week or two (or I would have if I hadn’t blogged about it). But for now, the desire for forbidden carbonation is raging hot in my blood.
What the heck is this about?
I have a strong fondness for this part of me that wants to rebel against everything. It’s a big part of what makes me who I am, and especially who I am as a writer: the part that looks at the ideas and rules that most people accept without question, and asks, “Is there really a good reason for that?” That’s an important and valuable human activity. Fun, too.
But at times, it’s a bit silly, and even counter- productive. As I’ve written before: To reflexively rebel against the mainstream means you’re just as controlled by that mainstream as you would be if you reflexively conformed to it.
And some rules are rules for a reason. According to the company’s FAQ (no, I’m not the first person to ask this question), if you carbonate things other than water with ther gizmo, “you risk damaging your drinks maker, not to mention making a big fizzy mess!” (Exclamation point theirs.) I don’t know why this is — I don’t know if there’s some weird chemical process that happens when you try to carbonate soy milk — but I doubt that they’d make up a rule like that for no reason. If they say it makes a big fizzy mess, it probably makes a big fizzy mess.
I’m reminded of an interview I once read with the actor Klaus Kinski. He was raging against the intolerable strictures of our conformist society, and he said (I’m paraphrasing here), “I’ll be driving along, and I’ll see a sign that says ‘Right Lane Must Turn Right,’ and I think to myself, ‘MUST turn right? MUST?!? FUCK YOU!’”
That line made me laugh for weeks afterwards, and it was a catch- phrase among my circle of friends for a long time. It was such a blatantly absurd example of pointless rebellion. Traffic laws are the perfect example of laws that are there for very good reasons indeed… and in any case, it seemed just a teensy bit out of proportion, a case of choosing one’s battles somewhat poorly. There are far more intolerable strictures of our conformist society than the right turn only lane.
And yet, it’s kind of how I feel now about the home carbonator.
“MUST not carbonate anything other than water? MUST not?!? FUCK YOU!”