I rushed out of the office in the East Bay, changed into jeans in the parking lot between the two open doors to my incredibly hip rental car, and then finally pointed my compass southwest towards SFO. The bags under my eyes reminded me I had a score to settle: someone must have slipped alcohol into my grape juice at our group dinner the night before. I couldn’t trust anyone, anymore. With a ten hour flight ahead of me, and the Sahara desert renting my mouth, I was desperate for something to drink, anything. I was at the toll plaza just before the Bay Bridge when I saw her, wedged between my brief case and the lever to move the passenger seat back for anyone blessed with height: a bottle of red Gatorade.
She sparkled in the last bit of sun just before the fog rolled in. How did I forget about my Gatorade? I grabbed the bottle from under the seat and took a long pull, making sure to fluff out the lengthy bits of hair just behind my ears. It was a moment, and it was glorious. And then it hit me.
My Gatorade was hot, and I liked it.
The memories started to flood in, so I fluffed out my hair again and prepped a few dollars for the bridge. Soccer camp as a kid, we used to drink straight from the sugar-laced spigot at the bottom of that oversized tub – you know the one, it was ribbed and for some reason always orange. Driving to the pool with all the windows up in 100 degree heat, which we called hot boxing Kurt’s car, always left us with instant Gatorade tea. Camping with friends, any Gatorade left in the tent was sticky and sweet, but did the trick after a long intoxicating hike. Did the heat make it sweeter? I think so. It gave us wings without the bull. And when I had a real habit, I started to buy the powder and every once in a while a clump would tickle my throat. That wasn’t such a good memory, but I remembered it, and paid my toll.
I reached the last stretch of the 101 before the rental car lot. I smiled as I thought about the good times, when clumps of hot Gatorade weren’t necessarily a bad thing. Then I remembered the countless number of bees from my childhood that found the sticky sugar of Zeus to spend their last moments on this earth. How many bees had died in red, orange, or green? Did they have a preference? I wrote a note in my phone which read: Gatorade, an athletic bee’s hospice. I grabbed my bags and said goodbye to my rental car, and flicked my hair one last time as I said so long to the remaining Gatorade I left wedged between the door and the passenger seat, right where it belonged.