The genesis of the Drank-o-meter found itself, as so many of the world’s greatest ideas often do, on a Saturday night boozing it up with girlfriends. As our esteemed company lounged about the salon, amusing our refined palates on a dainty supper of Pinot Grigio and Cool Ranch Doritos, the cleverest of our triumvirate, lamenting her unfortunate taste in men and riffing off Chappelle's drink v. juice joke, quipped, “It’s like I’m at the bodega, and I got a choice between juice & drink, and my dumb ass always goes for the purple.” And lo, the Drank-o-meter was born.
I had the presence of mind to grab a notebook and pen, and in the years since, what was written down that night has proved the handiest tool and verbal shorthand for evaluating the quality and nature of our relationships. Today I share it with you, determined, at last, to make fetch happen.
We’ll start at the bottom.
Purple Stuff (and other quarter waters). The lowest of the low, devoid of any nutritional value. It beats and cheats and has warrants for its arrest. Run. Run fast. Run, muthafucka, run! Cuz Molly, you in danger, gurl.
Non-Fictional Purple: I mean, do I really need to say it?
Kool-Aid. The most caddish of all the drank, Kool Aid stampedes into your life like an amorous, bon vivant wrecking ball, leaving behind only a crumbling hole in the wall of your heart and, worst of all, can never been made to understand what you’re so upset about.
Literary Kool Aid: Sense & Sensibility's John Willoughby
Tang. This nincompoop has virtually nothing going for it, but to hear it talk, you’d swear it’s an astronaut. It's harmless in the sense that this breed can be spotted from a mile away, for while it's blithely unaware of its drankitude, it telegraphs it in its every word, gesture, and sartorial choice. If you're wise, your involvement with this sort will be limited to blocking it on OKCupid. Just be thankful that you'll likely never get close enough for this one to wreak any real psychic damage.
Ode to Tang: TLC’s “No Scrubs”
Sunny D. Your favorite mistake. The flame to your masochistic moth. Your friends are sick of Sunny D, and rightfully so. They've fielded one too many tearful phone calls from you upon having been left in its unnecessarily complicated, on-again-off-again wake. But you keep running back to the fridge, flinging the door open, and gulping it down because the connection is so strong, and the sex is soooo multi-orgasmic. You swear it'll be different this time around. In the long run, it never is because this drank is just damaged enough to incite your savior complex and just intransigent enough for those efforts to be futile.
Ode To Sunny D: Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor”
Hawaiian Punch. Hawaiian Punch has a good heart and would never use or abuse you, but it cannot ever seem to get its shit together enough for you to truly take it seriously as an adult beverage. Partly because it still believes its band is going to make it someday, but mostly because it seems to be in stasis at zeta.
Fictional Hawaiian Punch: Matt Dillon in Singles
Clamato. Despite its possessing all the ostensible components of juice, for some reason, you simply don’t want it in your body. Clamato, quite plainly, is juice you don’t want to fuck. Or JIWLF, as is the preferred nomenclature.
Ode to Clamato: Cherelle’s “I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On”
Ocean Spray. Ocean Spray is, at first glance, everything your overbearing retrograde mother has ever wanted for you. It's good looking, hygienic, and gainfully employed. But if you don’t read the label closely, cranberry juice cocktail is a deceptive beverage. It may take a month or more of dating to realize you've got high fructose corn syrup on your hands, but whether gradually or suddenly, you'll begin to notice that it's an intolerable control freak, insufferable snob, or latent racist. Maybe it levels judgment regarding your sexual past and openly critiques your naked body. Maybe it makes fun of fat people, slips phrases like “Jew me down” into casual conversation, and thinks the homeless are just “lazy.” Maybe it’s emotionally withholding or insouciantly cruel. In any case, it soon becomes patently clear that this box of shit wrapped up with a pretty bow is merely juice on paper but utterly drank in life.
Fictional Ocean Spray: Mad Men’s Don Draper
Gatorade. When you and Gatorade first started dating, it was grand fun. It took you on bike rides to parts of the city you'd never seen before and to restaurants you never would’ve found on your own where you ate jerk-seasoned goat testicles and actually enjoyed them. It's spontaneous, energetic, & every day is a brand new adventure until one day when Gatorade spends the better part of thirty minutes haranguing you as a killjoy when you refuse to stand in the center of the ring of fire it intends to start on its living room floor.
Fictional Gatorade: Six Feet Under’s Billy Chenowith
Vitamin Water. Feeling down? Need a pick-me-up? Something uncomplicated but enervating that will help you revive and give you focus? Just shoot Vitamin Water a subtly innuendo-laden text at 2am on a Friday night.
Ode to Vitamin Water: Ke$ha’s “Booty Call”
Snapple. This worthy prospect truly is made from the best stuff on Earth but still has all that unfortunate sugar and “from concentrate” bullshit weighing it down. Goddamnit Snapple, I really dig you. You’re delicious, and we’re good together. Call me when you get over your ex, settle into your new job, and generally figure out what the fuck it is you’re looking for.
Ode to Snapple: Mary J Blige’s “Baggage”
Nantucket Nectars. Juice, sure enough. Indeed, Nantucket Nectars feels as though it could be just the one for you if not for that frustratingly crucial element missing from your connection. Got passion? Then you lack communication. Communication’s great? Then you feel like you’re making out with a sibling. There’s simply not enough “there” there. But if you can manage not to force that which should not be, you two are bound be lifelong friends.
Juicy Juice. Ah, sweet juice of yesteryear! You were its high school lover, and it was your favorite flavor, but what worked for you as kid doesn’t always translate to your grownup years even if it does manage to track you down on Facebook. Some things are best left to the warm fuzzies of nostalgia. Although if you and Juicy Juice never broke up, then you two are a couple straight out of a Marcy Carsey family sitcom, and I adore you.
Ode to Juicy Juice: Air’s “Playground Love”
100% Fresh Squeezed Juice. I could try to name a single ode, but they're countless. Once juice is found, people sing its glory from the rooftops. Juice has its act together. Juice is a healthy choice. Juice is good for you and good to you. Neglected and left to spoil, it can turn to vinegar. But when it's tended to and nurtured, it matures to a fine wine.
The Drank-o-meter (TM) is ultimately a binary system. It’s either juice or it’s drank, full stop. It either nourishes you or it’s filled with additives you’re better off not consuming. And once you realize where a prospect falls on the spectrum, it makes it that much easier to stop wasting your time rationalizing red flags & compel yourself to move on the second you realize it's not juice. Because if it's not juice, it's drank.
So who's your juice? What nightmare stories do you have to share about Gatorade or Ocean Spray? Are you currently banging your head against the wall over a Snapple? Inquiring minds wanna know.