Straw Etiquette

It occurred to me last night, as I was viewing television with my roommates, that there is no established protocol for using straws in present-day society.

That Vanilla Coke commercial with the supposed Coke Mafia boss came on as usual, and an argument arose pertaining to bottles, straws, and relative manliness.

Naturally, I offered my insight into the question, following the same path of logic, physics, and aesthetics that I'm certain the marketing execs at Coke followed in approving the commercial's script.

In the commercial, a young man sticks his head through a head-shaped hole in a big plywood board on the side of the street, symbolizing his youthful curiosity, and is immediately rewarded with a sip of an ice-cold Vanilla Coke. What instantly struck us as odd was the sipping of the bottled beverage through a straw. Two points immediately arose concerning this portion of the photoplay:

What also resonated in the inconsistency department was the last action of the spot. When the young man is released from his headlock and handed the bottle of Vanilla Coke, the straw has magically vanished and he is now consuming the beverage like a man: cock the head back and enjoy the flavour.

It took a little role-playing and logical analysis, but I soon developed a theory for why this took place on my cathode ray tube. First, it must be agreed upon that straws and bottles do not play nice together. The entire reason bottles are shaped with slender necks is to channel the liquid cleanly into the mouth with the assistance of gravity. In action, this motion carries with it a strong connotation of refreshment. Additionally, the Coca-Cola company relies heavily upon the so-called "Contour Bottle Design" in both their marketing campaign and brand recognition. Besides this, 12-ounce cans just aren't near as sexy as they used to be. Thus, the bottle was selected in this advertisement.

This presents a difficulty in the script of the commercial though. When an individual is trapped in a headlock on one side of a giant sheet of plywood and the rest of his body is still standing on the street, he is unable to position his neck at the required angle to successfully extract the beverage from its container. To do so without the assistance of a straw would require a large piece of streetside machinery to lift his body at the perfect angle such that his neck would provide the proper passageway from mouth to esophagus. I took the liberty of simulating this motion in our living room, and I can verify that the position the body must be in for such beverage consumption is both impossible and uncomfortable, and is certainly not a preferred method for refreshment ingestion.

The straw was selected, and temporarily rendered our protagonist just a little bit faggy.

This led me to ask myself how to identify the proper situations for straw usage.

  1. Straws render the user harmless and nonthreatening for the duration of the use of the straw. Anyone using a straw must come to terms with this fact in the form of an unspoken agreement with all parties present. If you seek verification of this statement, bring a tall glass of your favorite ice-cold soft drink with you to a seedy alleyway infested with rival gang members and taunt them between sips.
  2. As mentioned above, a straw used in conjunction with a bottle is both redundant and retarded.
  3. Similarly, a straw used in conjunction with a 12-ounce can is also redundant.
  4. Glasses and cups must be at least two-thirds the height of the straw, provided that the straw does not change angles at any point. This includes KrazyStraws purchased at the State Fair.
  5. Flexible straws are appropriate only for children under the age of 12 or highly attractive females. Establishments who provide flexible straws exclusively are not grounded in the adult world. For them, bankruptcy is nearing on the horizon.
  6. The red coffee swizzle sticks are not to be used as straws. Because no one told me this as a child, and I am forced to live in embarrassment to this day.
  7. A person afflicted with an illness that renders sitting up an impossibility is exempted from the above rules. In this scenario, a straw (preferably flexible) is not only acceptable, it is a necessity. Otherwise, the beverage will drip all over the subject's face and pillowcase.

Let this guide serve you in your quest to avoid embarrassment in social situations as it has aided me in the past. In fact, if you see people you know committing these faux pas, feel free to enlighten them in the field of straw etiquette. Conversely, if you feel that the most effective way to chastise the offender is to make light of the decision he or she has made, let your own discretion be your guide.

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