I just got a warning e-mail from my personal sage on all dilemmas, the wonder that is the brain of my great pal Louis Jackson.

I met Louis when I was 17 and going through “fraternity rush.” Although I had no intention of joining a fraternity, I was so impressed by Lou’s keen insights and “coolness” that I joined. Lou had the good sense to quit the fraternity the next year over some idiotic behavior by “the brothers,” and I soon followed. “Sweet Lou” went on to Harvard and finance. I went on to tell jokes to drunks in nightclubs.

Still, for over 20 years, when Lou talks, I listen.

So, today, as I prepare to go visit a Texas hypnotherapist in Atlanta while an English film crew and New Zealand director film my “attempt” to lose my Coca-Cola habit, Lou gives me these thoughts:

“Whoa up. Think about this before you seek to rid yourself of this addiction. On Sunday mornings as I’m coming in to church, a group of men are walking to their cars after their AA meeting. And they are, almost to a man, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. Most folks will replace one addiction with another, or several others. My question to you — with what addiction(s) are you going to replace Coca Cola, a relatively benign sugar and caffeine drink?”

Yes, I could replace my Coca-Cola “addiction” with something else. Perhaps crack. But I doubt it.

Honestly, I’m afraid that the hypnotist will not even be able to put me under. And all that time, travel, and expense will be wasted by my British friends from Channel 4.

Also, I believe the joy that comes from that first sip of Coke after a long session surfing in salty water is so welded into my cerebellum that no “one time” session of hypnotism can touch the joy I get from this addiction.

Naturally, I kept all these thoughts from the producer of this English film because I wanted to have the fun of trying hypnotism — and I wanted the money for February’s rent.

So, although I do love the sight, feel, taste, and reassurance that Coca-Cola is to me, I do believe that I can give up this goo I love for “ethical” reasons.

You see, I have gathered in reading that Coca-Cola holds ownership dominance over water in many Third World countries in which the local populace is being denied water for personal and crop use. I have also read accounts of people employed by or through the Coca-Cola corporation using strong-arm tactics and even violence in Third World areas to break up simple labor unions.

I must admit that I do not know if these charges are true. I have not personally investigated in Chad and Malawi and El Salvador. I’m sure my British film friends will share what they have discovered traveling the globe. And if it is true, I will give up Coca-Cola that day. Without hypnotism and without looking back.

One thing I firmly hold sacred is that we are all responsible for the knowledge that we have. So, if I learn of atrocities perpetuated by the Coca-Cola Corporation, it will no longer be possible to “have a Coke and a smile.”

Sure, I’m a grown-ass man, and I know that “all great fortunes are built by great crimes,” but I do not want to support anything that is growing on pain and oppression.

And anyway, it could lead me to my next great business on behalf of charity. The next great triumph that is my daily life. The lucrative world of thirst and beverages.

Isn’t there a place for a beverage with my profits going to orphans? Perhaps I would call it “Happy, Happy Cola” or possibly “Happy Bum Cola,” don’t yet know.

Or possibly as an answer to some of my hate mail that I am a “self-loathing Jew” and “anti-Israel,” I could call it “Jew Juice,” “He-brew Cola,” or “Kosher Cola.”

Our slogan…

Have a Jew and a smile. Y’all.

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