First of all, this is NOT to say that I base my choice in beverages on whether there is a superhero pictured on the can. Far from it. The selection of my weekly supply of soda at the grocery store takes many factors into account. What does the week ahead look like, what will my mood be? Will I enjoy the red-and-chrome caffeinated bullet in the head of a Coca-Cola Classic, or crave the subtle, distinctive flavor of a Dr Pepper?

Nevertheless, I will admit that when I saw that the twelve-packs of Dr Pepper stacked up in the entrance to Vons this past Sunday featured characters from the upcoming X-Men movie sequel on the cans, all other things being equal the geek factor won me over and I took a case. The box promised excitement, adventure! Wolverine! Storm! Boo-ya!

Having stowed the box in our shopping cart I promptly forgot about it until we unpacked our groceries at home. I tore open the packaging wondering who would be looking back at me from my soda cans for the rest of the week. I pulled one out and beheld the grim visage of the CEO of General Motors.

That was my first thought, at least. After my inital disorientation passed I realized that the somber pasty-faced man in the business suit, shown from the chest up, had to be someone else unless I'd mistakenly picked up a box from a "Captains of Industry" series. No, I had indeed bought an X-Men tie-in, and I have to confess that even then it took me a second to figure out that I must have gotten Professor X.

I say "must have" because to really get the concept of Professor X across, one needs more than baldness and a suit. The iconography includes a wheelchair and possibly a giant mutant-tracking computer plugged into his head. Neither of these items were pictured, so what the unhappy consumer is left with is a badly-printed picture of Patrick Stewart, dressed for a funeral and staring glumly out at you while you try to enjoy a nice beverage.

I'm fine, of course. As a grown man (albeit one drinking a superhero-themed soda) I can bounce back from setbacks like this. But I can only imagine the crushing disappointment and shame so many of our nation's children must be feeling as, while their schoolmates enjoy sodas decorated with exotic action heroes, they are forced to drink cans of Cranky White Guy until next week's shopping trip.

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