Project Gastronome, Day 11: Energy Drinks


Two weeks down, two to go.  The first two weeks of Project Gastronome covered Animal and Vegetable, but since I couldn't think of a good way to finish the 20 Questions trifecta by eating a week of "Mineral," I decided instead to go with Potable.

Millions of people begin their days with some kind of caffeine, whether it be in the form of coffee or tea, or, more recently, energy drinks.  I am not a habitual coffee drinker.  In an average month, I may drink two or three cups, and one of those is usually at church.  I don't know if science bears this out or not, but I feel like that way it's both more of a treat and it packs more of a punch when I really need it to, because I haven't built up a tolerance to it.  I keep a one liter stainless steel bottle on my desk at work, and fill it with water once when I arrive in the morning, and again after lunch.

Before today, I had never tried an energy drink.  I decided that Monday would be the ideal day of the week to have one, and not just any Monday, but one that came after a weekend of traveling.  To ice the sleepiness cake, I stayed up until about 1 AM last night, playing videogames (BioShock 2, in case you care.  I already can't wait for BioShock Infinite next year...).

Not having shopped for energy drinks before, I had no idea what a huge array of them there were.  It's like a visit to the toothpaste aisle, where there are 200 different kinds, and you just want to find the one that tastes good and will keep you from getting cavities.  I bought two of them, a grape Five Hour Energy and a Rockstar Juiced, and figured I'd decide which one to try later.

I usually save the video for the end, but for what I'm going to type after this to make any sense, I need to go ahead and put it in at this point.

Sometime between the purchase and the consumption, I got the idea that it would be really funny to drink both of them at once.  This was STUPID.  Luckily, I'm a pretty large guy and my body eventually absorbed everything I'd put into it, but it turns out that what I did was actually a medically dangerous thing to do.  If you read the manufacturer's recommendations for both of these brands, they recommend consuming no more than two a day, and no closer than about six hours apart.  Now, I'm not trying to be overly dramatic here - I don't think I was at risk of having to call an ambulance or anything, but seriously, don't do what I did.

Also, watching these different videos all at once is weird to me, because I'm not sure why I keep looking over my shoulder.  I'm standing in front of a storage shelf in one of them.  What did I expect to see when I looked back?!?  I don't know, but it was an uncontrollable impulse.  I felt like if I didn't look over my shoulder something very bad would happen.

Here's a little liveblog section that I kept throughout the day:
8:15 - am logged in and have responded to all emails that came in while I was out on Friday.  Made a task list, ready to start on it.  Feeling hyperfocused.
9:20 - head started swimming, flush of heat, alert but paranoid
9:40 - responded to 15 Words With Friends games in 5 minutes
9:50 - everything I do feels more urgent and dynamic.  I didn't just buckle my belt after using the bathroom.  I buckled the SHIT out of my belt.
10:00 - diuretic effects of caffeine kicking in.  Have just visited bathroom for fourth time since arriving at work.
10:15 - constant low-grade buzz in my ears, short bursts of attention but having trouble staying with one thing
11:00 - hectic morning - co-worker on vacation, server crashed, error on another system, multiple vendors asking for information - feeling very irritable, especially with idiots who can't remember passwords
12:00 - tremors in hands, nausea
12:30 - feeling better with some food in stomach, but easily distracted
6:30 - thought I had things back under control, but then I went to the gym.  I was on the elliptical, letting Pandora choose my music for me, and realized that TEARS were coming down my FACE in front of PEOPLE, because "Don't Stop Believin'" came on.

I don't think these are a drink I will be having again.  I'm not sure how much of their effect on me was actual, and how much was placebo, but I didn't like the feeling.  Even when I was getting a lot done this morning, I had kind of a mean edge to my thoughts.  Plus, at a time when I've been trying to eat more conscientiously, I couldn't escape the feeling all morning long that I had poured something (two things!) that looked, smelled, and tasted so artificial into my gut.


Roy B. said...

WOW!! It was like you were shooting a bad crime story. I kept waiting for you to go out and knock over a 7-11. Funny, and I'm glad you're okay.

I know you didn't ask for stories again, but you can delete it if you don't want it!

Last summer we were driving the girls to my Mom's in Dallas. It was the July 4th weekend when we had those torrential rains. We were leaving after work. So, I drank a 5 hour energy about lunch time. I'd never had one before.

I was driving down Ranger hill in a driving rainstorm at night at almost exactly five hours after I had taken it. Within a span of about two minutes I got so dizzy I thought I was going to pass out. There was no place to pull over and it took all my concentration to keep the car in one lane. It was like the worst drunk/hangover I've ever had all at once.

"No Crash" my ass!! When I finally got to a safe place, I pulled over, got out and walked in the rain for about 5 minutes, which cleared by head enough to drive again. It was actually pretty scary. I wasn't tired, or sleepy, just as dizzy and disoriented as I've ever felt in my life.

I know millions drink those things every day, but I never will again.

I hope whatever you've got planned the rest of the week is funny, not dangerous!

Danny said...

You know what's funny about the crime story comparison? Instead of a caption with the time, I had considered doing a title card with the Law & Order "chung CHUNG" sound between segments.

Maybe your body eventually builds some tolerance to these things, just like with alcohol, but I don't want to drink enough of them to find out. The dizziness you describe sounds a lot like what I had. One time when I had to have a little outpatient procedure done (with just local anesthetic), the doctor gave me two Valium about an hour ahead of time to help me relax. It had the exact opposite effect, because my head felt so detached from my body that it made me anxious. That's how I was feeling at 9:20 yesterday morning!

Jenn said...

Oh man this was right up my alley. I rarely drink caffeine and if I need to stay awake, I'll have a red bull because I sip it and not just chug it because I want it to last longer. I made the mistake one time of buying a rockstar on a day when I had to work a 12 hour day (teacher certification testing) and chugged that thing because it was bigger and I felt like I didn't need to conserve it like I would a red bull. BIG mistake! By the end of the day Taylor almost took me to the emergency room because I was convulsing and couldn't breathe. Taylor googled caffeine overdose which is what happened to me! We ended up not going to the ER, thank goodness because I'm sure I would have been the laughing stock of the day! But MAN, right before I crashed I was ready to go techno dancing at the gay bar...I'm being completely serious! :)

Will Meekin said...

Until a few weeks ago, I’d drink 3 cups of coffee each morning. But then, to your tolerance point, I increased to 4-5 because I wasn’t getting the same uplift mojo party plan from my usual daily allowance. But I’ve always intuitively avoided the energy drinks for the same reason I’ve never tried cocaine (well, that and the sad parable of Len Bias, look it up kids): That shit-a make you crazy, yo!

I didn’t see the paranoia coming, but man, it was palpable. The store room clip played like a Blair Witch outtake. Also I’m intrigued and disturbed by your report that your normal thoughts had an unusual mean bent to them in the morning. When you ingest something that changes not what you think so much as how you think, it’s alarming and raises all sorts of thorny questions of self and determinism and how neurochemically arbitrary consciousness just may be.

The other side effects, the flush, the distraction, the crash, saw all that coming. But I’m curious, did you experience sweats? Sensitive to caffeine, my body responds with the socially inconvenient expression of perspiration from, of all places, my forehead. It’s awesome, but manageable. But when you were guzzling the Rockstar I was rolling, picturing you at the office, looking as if you were trying to land the 747 in “Airplane.”

Other stuff. Loved Bioshock 1, but heard that, other than offering the transitory pleasure of being able to play as a Big Daddy, B2 is just more of the same. But you’re enjoying it? And what about B3 has you excited?

Finally, a culinary tip. I was going to post this as a Facebook update, but it fits better here. A stupid-simple, delicious, 10 minute meal that, quite literally, makes the Ps D: capellini, chopped walnuts & sliced portabello mushrooms, Trader Joe’s pesto and a salmon fillet. Boil pasta, saut√© nuts and mushrooms, broil fillet. Combine. Salt to taste. “What!” spikes the mike and walks offstage.

Will Meekin said...

Note: Saute nuts and mushrooms in your fat of choice, e.g., butter, olive oil, etc., but not in the pesto.

Anonymous said...

I drink a 12 oz. Red Bull 2-3 times a week. I love it. I've been curious about the 5 Hour Energy for a while, may need to try it. But I think it was a mistake to do both.

I actually thought you were twitching and looking over your shoulder for effect. The fact that you weren't, only makes it better!

Danny said...

Thank you, Will, for giving me an excuse to resurrect my favorite truly tasteless joke:
Who's the only Celtic under six feet?
Len Bias.

Too soon?

I think part of the paranoia was also nerves that somebody was going to walk in while I was recording, and I'd have to explain why I was talking to myself in an empty room. I'm usually pretty susceptible to the sweats, too, but since I don't normally drink that volume of caffeine, I didn't have an experience to compare it to. For me, it usually breaks out worst when I'm drinking heavily, especially liquor. As far as the meanness, I'm still going over that one in my head.

You heard exactly right about Bioshock 2. It's not that different an experience from the first one, and as somebody whose gaming time is much more limited than it used to be, I shouldn't be wasting time on it. But I just thoroughly enjoyed that world so much that I'm glad to revisit it. I'm looking forward to B3 for a couple of reasons. First, it's a change of scenery, from a city under the sea to a city in the clouds. Second, where the first two titles told their story and took their aesthetic from Ayn Rand and Objectivism, the next one goes in a different direction, taking its inspiration from a more xenophobia and eugenics influenced story. The team that made the first one is back, and I think they can do great things with the story.

The recipe sounds good. Saving that one for later.

Kyle - you know that I'm many things, but I'm not that good an actor.

Ali said...

oh. my. gosh. DYING. i am dying! that video - especially the over-the-shoulder paranoia - KILLS me! and, "buckled the SHIT out of my belt"

is it weird that there's a small part of me... THAT WANTS TO DO THIS, TOO?! (but, not two at once. i think it would probably kill me after i see the reaction it had on YOU...) but, then i read the comments, and now i'm thinking that i'll just skip it.

as for my-husband-if-there-were-a-bizarre-meteorite-incident, will: i think it's cute that he gives you a pass for mean thoughts because something changed "neurochemically" in you. me? i'm willing to bet you always want to kill the douches who forget their passwords... ;)

also? i'm not sure i understand how the salmon pesto recipe flowed with that stream of consciousness. but, who am i to judge?

oh, will. to quote danny: i kid because i love.

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