Hooked on Dew because he can't drink the water

When he was knee-high to a Nehi, when Cokes had in them what they were named after, Tie Rod was able to secure a 7-ounce pop maybe once a week, which got peanutted if he had a full dime.

He always dreamed of having a lard can full of Orange Crush, all to himself. Was it just him, or didn't Orange Crush use to taste a lot better?

If you had told him back then that someday before he died, when he ordered a bottle of pop, they would give him one the size of a Clorox jug, he wouldn't have believed it. If you had told him then that someday you would have to buy a drink of water, he wouldn't have believed that, either.

Tie Rod always would drink anything that he knew did not have lye in it. He doesn't mind living dangerously. He eats poke 30 minutes before it is old enough to kill you. At one time he had swallowed his way through the state police drug chart, but has so far been denied the flashbacks that were promised.

Some call them soft drinks, or soda, but in the mountains, we call it "pop," which, naturally, they usually spell backward. So early on, when a new drink came out colored like the inside of a muddy cow track, and with sugar enough to be the envy of moonshine whisky, Tie Rod was quick to snap a cap. He likes a little sugar along.

Tie Rod would never have tried Mountain Dew if he had known that it was going to promote toothlessness. With occasional exception, Tie Rod has no use for a toothless woman.

He thinks that the reason a lot of old people are crazy is that they are Polygripped after a lifetime of glue in the mouth. Tie Rod knows glue is supposed to be taken in through the nose.

He meant no harm drinking Mountain Dew and, if he had it to do over again, would have stuck with the healthier alternative, beer, or its diminished version. Tie Rod heard that light beer helps you lose weight and figured the more of it you drink the more weight you lose.

Tie Rod wants to always be the same age as his hair and his teeth.

Tie Rod thinks the song has been worse on his people than the pop. That good old Mountain Dew was written by an Asheville, N.C., lawyer about the trial of a liquid folk artist and his own lawyer drinking up of the evidence during the trial. The poor stiller got off by paying the judge the costs (for a defendant to get off in the mountains, the judge must have his costs) when he explored in court the moral nuance of punishing conduct many people do.

From Asheville to Nashville that song got changed just enough to ruin it. The song went on to be about the only song people from the afar country associate with the mountains, and to this day, it is demanded by knowing tourists right before Pretty Polly.

Tie Rod's real music, like the real teeth of his people, like not to have survived Mountain Dew. He has never in his life heard a mountain person call moonshine "mountain dew."

Tie Rod doesn't know that he is supposed to be ashamed of stuff that they put on television about mountain people. Shame must be taught, and he just won't take shame lessons.

He does not quickly condemn the use by others of the stereotype because he sees enough of it in himself. In an age of too much information and too little food, he thinks ignorance is going to be necessary for his people to survive.

So Tie Rod forgives Diane Sawyer if she is ignorant for not showing the nice double-wides and the mansions of the coal people, just as he forgives the middle class of his own country who probably do not know just how many ragged people there are with only Ranch in the Frigidaire.

But he would have had the belle of Louisville point out that mountain people have to buy whatever they drink. They used to have their own water but now have to buy it from others. Their wells have been blown up to further global warming, and so they don't have drinking water at the house and, if you have to go to the store, it makes more sense to some to spend money on something that tastes better and already has sugar in it than to buy water, which, the last time Tie Rod checked, falls out of the sky.

That is partly why Tie Rod's legions lead the nation in per capita consumption of Pepsi and in dental labs. And in documentaries.

Tie Rod thinks the answer is if the General Assembly had its own secret police.