I go into RJ’s and I spot  a drink made by a company called Alo. There are several flavors but all share the common base of aloe vera. My experience with aloe before coming to San Francisco was as a medicinal treatment for burns and more recently as an after-sunburn cream. Dinking it cold from a plastic bottle, particularly in a mixture with mangosteen and mango retailing for four bucks, hadn’t occurred to me. But when I saw it on the shelf I decided I had to try it.

I had just come from the squash courts. I was very hot. The cool green bottle and the name gave me a vision of a deep chilling plunge into a lake. I couldn’t wait. I screwed off the top and gulped only to realize awkwardly that the cool green liquid was full of chunks of aloe. They were cool, yes, but they had a texture that could not be ignored. Maybe if I had known that aloe chunks were coming I would have been able to ignore them, but unwarned it was the equivalent of a finding a mouse in a bottle of coke.

I spat it out. I jumped back to make sure none of it touched me. A total WTF moment. The guy behind the counter in the deli laughed and shook his head. I couldn’t tell if he meant: “that stuff is nasty,” or “what do you expect, Champ, if you buy a $4 drink named Alo.”

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