Facing Food Fears: #2: Four Loko

To hell with trepidation. I'm forcing myself to try those five intriguing foods that scare me. I may barf, I may cry, and I may not always enjoy myself, but at least I won't be a coward.

#2: Four Loko

I know, I know. What the hell happened to #3: The Four Horsemen Burger? Well, end-of-semester madness has made a daytrip to San Antonio near impossible, so I'm skipping ahead to #2: Four Loko.

I was actually fine with the idea of drinking Four Loko. Like, maybe one teaspoon, that is. Drinking a whole can, however, was far more intimidating. I can't get my mind around the fact that Craig Hlavaty was able to drink three.

Finding Four Loko, it turns out, was only slightly less time-consuming than driving to San Antonio.

I had seen several varieties for sale at my local Valero, but when I went to pick up a few cans the manager crisply informed me the product was "discontinued" and therefore unavailable. Four Loko's website directed me to two other nearby gas stations, both of which only had the fruit punch variety (supposedly the foulest of the bunch), so I kept driving in the hopes of locating my first-choice flavor, cranberry lemonade.

At Sunrise Groceries on Bissonet Street, I finally found watermelon and plain lemonade Four Loko. I grabbed a can of each for just under $6 total and put them in the fridge to chill for my drinking session the following day. Neurotic that I am, I then went online and (re)read all the horror stories and testimonials from medical professionals regarding the drink's dangers. In the process, I learned two of the Four Loko's most popular nicknames: "Liquid Crack" and "Blackout in a Can."

My parents were going to be so proud.

The next day I popped a can of the lemonade flavor, turned on an episode of Mad Men, and waited for my "babysitter." Yes, as my husband had to work late, I commandeered my friend Maggie at the last minute to make sure I didn't go running amok in an alcohol-induced frenzy. Although I have a fairly decent tolerance, at the end of the day I'm still a slight woman and consuming the equivalent of four beers plus a day's worth of sugar and caffeine would surely affect me.

Perhaps it was just the power of suggestion, but as soon as I started sipping, I felt the onset of a warm relaxing buzz. Four Loko didn't taste overwhelmingly sweet, as some others have claimed, but rather like an amped-up version of Mike's Hard Lemonade.

After drinking one quarter of a can in just under 15 minutes, I already was having trouble enunciating. It also seemed like the perfect time to show Maggie all 400 of my wedding photos and describe in detail the members of my very large extended Irish family. My legs felt pleasantly tingly and I hoped whatever restaurant we chose didn't have a spiral staircase.

In a brief moment of waning clarity, I realized I would be Very Fucked Up (that's a technical term) if I finished a whole can. Specifically, Fucked Up in a way I could not anticipate. So, I stopped. I took a breather and switched to a vodka and cranberry juice. Call me a wimp, but I prefer a familiar buzz than the unknown, potentially perilous high of Four Loko.

The can of watermelon Four Loko is still in my fridge. Maybe one day I'll work up the courage to drink half and see where that gets me.

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Joanna O'Leary