The Original Sweet Leaf Sweet Tea

So I usually stop at a particular grocery store in Brooklyn en route to my monthly Cthulhu game. I buy some genoa salami and cheese, or some fresh pineapple rings, and usually a box of Caffeine Free Coca Cola. The salami and cheese thing is a horrible habit I picked up from a friend who was on Adkins, being that I’m not on Adkin’s I just get fat on it instead of turning greasy and wasting away.

It’s a good life, though. I had to stop going to the deli for lunch meat because the meat cutters have acted like jack asses in the past and inspired me to a level of retaliatory nastiness that makes me nervous about even entering the store.

The worst part of this regular grocery visit, though, was the recurring frustration of the Sweet Leaf Sweet Tea. The idiot store people put the precious stuff in a refrigerator on the far end of the pay counter, so you don’t see the stuff till AFTER you’ve paid and walked all the way to the exit. For about a year I would shop, pay, take three steps and slap my forehead as I saw the highly desirable bottle with the picture of the little old woman on it.

Till one day. One glorious day, a great day, I notice the stuff before I’m done paying. I put all my crap down on the counter, and fought my way over to the refrigerated cabinet and extracted a single bottle. Victory!

I gloated over my success throughout the entire Call of Cthulhu game session. The bottle sat in my bag, I was saving it for a good day when I could concentrate on it. I also didn’t want a big dose of caffeine that particular evening. Good things can wait, right? I got home and put the bottle in the refrigerator, only to have disaster strike in the form of a thirsty and vengeful wife.

A while ago my wife started innocently drinking out of my soda stash as a way of forcing me to consume the sodas faster, and therefore clear out an overcrowded refrigerator shelf. I say innocently, but this was actually a decision arrived at through her native cunning. I’d come home and see another rare soda, perhaps one hand crafted from raw air by Phillipino monks living in Tibet, fallen victim to my wife. The bottle placed on top of the recycling can, or left casually on a table, sure to attract my attention. To protect against these encroachments I “fell back” into a box in my room, hoarding the bottles and cans under a table. Sure, the sodas won’t keep as well, but at least they’ll stick around long enough to upset me with their horrible taste.

I considered throwing a camouflage tarp over the crates, but I think my wife is happy with simply having driven me out of the refrigerator. Her victory conditions were met.

A few days ago my wife and I were waiting for a bus in Brooklyn. I was telling her about this blog entry, and how she had dashed my long efforts to nab a bottle of Sweet Leaf Sweet Tea. My dearly beloved told me that this drink was not nearly so rare as I thought, and that it could be found in any deli in NYC. I pointed across the street from the bus stop to a convenient deli. She ran in and returned empty handed. Her original statement was amended to “any deli in Manhattan”. After our ride we stopped in at a health food store she thought would certainly have the stuff, the joke was on her because it not only didn’t have Sweet Leaf anything, but I walked out with five new bottles random fancy sodas. Ha!

On the way out on the bus, I’d spotted a Polish market at Fifth Ave and 18th Street. I ran all the way there, to beat the bus, and had a quick dash through looking for Eastern European sodas. None were to be found, but I did pick up a nice selection of American fancy sodas and an RC – RC is rare in NYC. This place easily had the best soda selection I’ve seen in NYC. And – lo and behold – there was a row of Sweet Leaf teas. I didn’t pick one up because, after all, they are as common as dirt on Manhattan.