Breaking up a long-standing relationship, one I’ve fought for and “earned” might be the toughest thing I’ve quit so far.

Growing up on the farm pop was always a valuable and scarce commodity. The arguments I almost always lost with my sister about who had the larger half (a contradiction I know) were often epic. The problem was we typically “halved” our soda using the can and a glass because you didn’t want to dirty an extra dish. We washed them by hand after all and we were nothing if not efficient on the farm. Plus, who wants more chores? Since you couldn’t see into or through a steel can (that’s how old I am) this was always a judgment call. Sometimes in desperation I would opt to drink out of a measuring cup just to ensure I got my fair and equitable six ounces. This no doubt encouraged my analytical tendencies I so love and adore today along with my wife. So, clarification, I love and adore my tendencies AND my wife, she, not so much on the tendencies. Unfortunately my sister got to take her turn at being the one determining the portions and I always ended up feeling slighted. I know, I know, get over it but I’m Irish and we don’t ever, ever forget a slight because a slight does not, unlike its other definition, feel small. I took a giant step forward when in my teens I had the wherewithal to buy my own pop.

If you’ve never enjoyed a cold Coke standing in a hot shower after a long practice I feel for you. Simply put, you have not lived. The cold sweating can in your hand as warm water courses over you; drinking down that icy sweetness, it’s what living is all about. After some long and particularly grueling basketball practices, this reward almost made the pain worthwhile. Indulgence in this luxury in an unlimited quantity has for many years represented not only independence and self-directedness but monetary self-sufficiency, even debauchery. That’s why it is so difficult to make it the object of this week’s quitting.

I wouldn’t go so far as saying I have had a love affair with pop but it’s been more than a mere dalliance. There’s been many times on the road that I’ve enjoyed the clovey (yes I made that up) bite of a Coke from McDonalds or the syrupy, caffeine-rich punch of a Mountain Dew, usually with a Snickers.

Pop has kept me awake, kept me focused and kept me motivated to get through everything from college cramming to late night diaper runs. It’s been a tool, a companion, a reward and a treat when I needed it but sadly the relationship has come to an end. It has to stop. But don’t worry pop. It’s not you, it’s me.

For all the good things associated with pop it has also brought me some bad things. Weight gain, diabetes, cavities and stomach issues are just a few of the consequences of our years’ long relationship. It’s time to let it go. Now, I’m not stupid I know I have other alternatives that might step into the void, things that might be no better than my old friend. Subbing for pop in the caffeine department are likely coffee and tea. Fruit juice and sports drinks could easily step into the sweetness gap and provide just as many calories. Fortunately, these alternatives aren’t a large habit, at least not yet, and hopefully my slightly obsessive personality won’t stray looking for new vices. In any event it will be a fresh start for me and hopefully the lessons learned that precipitated our breakup will advise me if I’m tempted to take up others. To be honest that sounds a lot like “learning” and could be a struggle for this old dog but it has to be done.

So, so long soda, goodbye pop and adios Miss Coke. We had a great run but we’ve come to the end of the road. See you on the other side at that great big beverage fountain in the sky.

I’m sure I’ll have more to report on this one in the weeks to come but I’d like to hear: What’s something you’ve done for a long time even though you knew it was not good for you? How did you kick it? I would appreciate the success stories. I might need a lot of encouragement on this one.