Every couple of weeks we get together and write out his grocery list. The same list. I should scan it into my computer and print it off when I need it. Instead, I sit there like a secretary taking dictation while Arthur rattles off brands, flavors, and sizes. Because he pays me to help, I try not to roll my eyes at the mention of his one addiction.
Yes, it's true. Addiction does not discriminate against senior citizens, and Arthur's no exception. The monkey on his back? Pepsi, in the two liter bottles. You have never seen anyone drink this stuff like he does. He would be in a permanent state of euphoria if only he had an intravenous hookup of Pepsi to keep him sated all day. Yes, he knows it's bad for his kidneys, but when you're a junkie you don't care about such trivial things as organs.
Arthur easily throws back a two liter bottle of Pepsi per day. I'm a coffee addict, and I don't even drink that much. That guy can drink me under the table when it comes to caffeinated beverages, no question. Should the Pepsi supply dwindle at Arthur's house, conditions rapidly deteriorate. He starts pacing like a caged elephant. That's currently the situation over there. I got a phone call earlier today from the addict."Hello?"
"Hey, how are you?"
"I'm good, Arthur. How are you?"
"I'm down to two bottles of Pepsi and my benefits check doesn't hit the bank 'til tomorrow."
I try to remain serious. I bite my lip in an effort to stifle any urge to giggle. "Are you going to make it okay? Can you pace yourself?"
"I'll be okay. I'll be careful." His kidneys must be crying.
Each time I go shopping for Arthur it's like another scene from the movie Groundhog Day. Nothing changes. I made an unintentional change once and it caused a big ole brouhaha. It happened one evening while I was at the store for Arthur. I had just approached the Pepsi display when my cell rang. Thinking I could multitask, I answered the call. While talking on the phone, I put the required six bottles of Pepsi in the cart and went about my business. Arthur always gets six bottles at a time. I just love hauling it all in the house for him.
When I return to his place, I walk in loaded down with about eight bags. Arthur is sitting in his new, non-fireproof leather recliner. With military precision, his gaze hones in on one of the bags of Pepsi I was carrying.
"You got the wrong Pepsi." I look down. No way.
"What? No I didn't. How can you even tell through the bag?" He's like a geriatric Superman needing a fix.
Irritated, I look down into the bag, and there it is. Diet Pepsi. The mother of all no-nos for Arthur. And not just one bottle. Five out of the six I bought are wrong. I say a bad word. Arthur stares at the offending bags from his perch. I know what I have to do.
"Stupid cell phone. I got a call and it distracted me while I was putting the Pepsi in the cart. I'll take these back and get the right Pepsi." I know he won't sleep that night knowing Diet Pepsi is in the house, like it would breed with the other Pepsi and contaminate his stash. I’d have to talk him down if he ran out of the regular Pepsi before I could get to the store. The junkie.
I drive back to the store and make the exchange. Arthur is able to satisfy his addiction and all is well. He has his beloved Pepsi, a gallon of sour cream, four varieties of chips, and enough pimento cheese spread to feed a football team. My work there is done. Until another two weeks pass and I do the whole thing again.