I always think it’s funny when people from Texas visit New York and try to order Dr. Pepper everywhere they go. This isn’t something that I picked up on right away. It’s only after years of working at restaurants in the city, thinking it really weird that every once in a while I’d get those out-of-towners who asked me for a Dr. Pepper, as if it was just the most natural thing in the world, giving me looks of confusion when I’d respond, “Sorry, we don’t have Dr. Pepper.”
Dr. Pepper exists up here, but it’s not like you’re ever going to find it outside of a grocery store or a Seven-Eleven. It’s just Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’d love it if restaurants had more of a soda selection, but I don’t sit down at random restaurants and start asking for cream soda or something equally obscure.
You travel away from home, maybe you don’t know. I certainly don’t know. I worked at this touristy place for a few years and I was initially really confused when Southerners started asking me, “Ya’ll got sweet tea?” I’d be like, “Well, we have iced tea.” I didn’t know there was a difference. But I guess if you add sugar to iced tea, you call it sweet tea, and everybody just kind of expects it.
Whatever, it’s all just funny regional differences. But again, it wasn’t until I actually met some Texans that I eventually figured out that it’s a Texas thing, Dr. Pepper, that apparently this stuff is more popular than Coke is in the rest of the country. Which is crazy, to think that there’s an alternate reality out there, where everybody speaks the same language, right, but Coke isn’t number one, Dr. Pepper is.
I like Dr. Pepper. I can’t tell you exactly what it tastes like, but then again, I can’t really tell you what Coke tastes like either. But they definitely taste different. Maybe I’d like it if we switched to Dr. Pepper. Coke is great and everything, but I don’t know, I feel like a lifetime of cola has sort of dampened my ability to appreciate it anymore. It doesn’t taste like anything anymore, not really, it’s just sweet.
One time recently I had this couple sit down at one of my tables at the restaurant. The guy had this big beard and when I asked him what he wanted to drink, he asked for a Dr. Pepper is that Texas drawl. And I smiled and I said, “Sorry pardner, you’re not in Texas anymore.” And he kind of just looked at me, and his girlfriend or wife or whatever just said, “That’s OK, he’ll have a Coke.”
And it sucked, because I wasn’t trying to be a dick or anything, I was just trying to be friendly. Like friendly funny. Like yeah, I’m making fun of you a little bit, but it’s all good-natured, nothing to get upset over. That’s what I was going for anyway, but I don’t know, every once in a while I’ll play it back in my head. Was I coming across as a jerk? Was it my intonation? Was it the whole “pardner” thing?
Whatever, there’s one thing that I can totally appreciate about Southerners and Texans. Not once have they every asked me for a Pepsi. At least we can all agree on that. Coke, fine. Dr. Pepper, yeah, I’d be willing to switch to Dr. Pepper. But Pepsi? Forget about it. Whenever someone asks me, “Is Pepsi OK?” I say, “No, Pepsi is not OK. Pepsi is never OK.” And usually that gets a laugh, but I’m not joking, I’m actually trying to be a little bit of a dick, if only to get the importance of my message across.