A few months ago, I was in a checkout lane at the local Dick's Sporting Goods standing behind a woman with a shopping cart full of baseball supplies: Bat, glove, batting glove, a helmet with a faceguard, and a variety of other miscellanea. I think there was even a jockstrap in the pile, but it gave me chilling memories of sixth grade gym class, so I immediately blocked it out.
I figured she was a Little League Mom, and I was right because her demon seed showed up with an armload of these red, black and yellow bottles. The label read 5-hour Energy
. He spilled the bottles into the cart -- there must have been at least a dozen of them -- and his mother immediately blanched. The following conversation ensued:Mom:
"Honey, you don't need that
[Stamping his little foot] "Yes I do! I have five games next week and I need
two per game or I can't
[In a whiny voice] "But I don't like it when you take two at a time. You get all jittery and then you're up all night..."Kid:
[Balling his fists and scrunching up his face] "Damn it, mom!"Mom:
[Grabbing up the bottles out of the cart] "Screw it, then! I'll buy them myself!"Mom:
[Beat] "No. No, it's okay. I'll buy them."
This exchange made me think two things. First and foremost, that I loathe bratty kids and the parents who let them misbehave. (Seriously, if I ever go on some kind of bizarre rampage, it'll likely be the result of one too many whacks to the head by a kid's water noodle at the local pool, or maybe because some little rascal kept hitting me in the face with a basketball while I was trying to shoot around at the gym.) Second but still significant, what kind of a world do we live in when an 11-year-old kid needs a double-dose of performance enhancement for a Little League
You know, when I was 11, I had 5-hour Energy, too. It was called puberty
. I woke up on my own at around 5 a.m., spent the day in an endless loop of constant activity, and then I'd still
be up half the night fantasizing about Julie Newmar
. (With all due respect to Eartha Kitt
, Julie was and will forever be my favorite Catwoman. And I'm sorry, but Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry aren't even in the discussion.) I had more than enough pep for those brutal, daylong games of dodgeball, "smear the queer" (the sole goal of which is to take turns getting gang-tackled into a bloody pulp) and -- my personal favorite -- "climb as high as you can up a tree and then jump out." So why do today's kids need an artificial energy boost to play a game where you spend most of your time just standing around? I don't get it.
Still, I was mildly intrigued, and when I saw a 5-hour Energy display at Walgreens a few days later, I bought a bottle (it's about $4, by the way). 5-Hour Energy is different than Red Bull and other so-called "energy" drink in that it's not a mega-shot of caffeine and sugar. (There is some caffeine, but only about the amount you'd find in the average cup of crappy office coffee.) 5-hour Energy is mostly just a super dose of B-vitamins (like 8000% of the daily recommended allowance) and amino acids (the building blocks of life!). The bottle promised that I would get a solid burst of prolonged energy without the typical side-effects associated with most energy drinks: Namely, the initial shakes and the eventual "crash effect" (where you suddenly feel like all the strength has been sucked mercilessly out of your body).
I decided to use a bottle before going to play in my weekly pickup league. I had no idea how much time was required for the 5-hour Energy to take affect, so I drank it about a half hour before I left. That gave me time to sit down, relax and note the immediate effects. Within a few minutes, I started to feel a little flushed. Not jittery or anything, but it felt like my blood was flowing faster than normal...as if my heart rate was up (but only slightly). I also started to feel more focused and alert. I wasn't bouncing off the walls like I am after downing a Red Bull, but I was definitely energized.
I went to the league and played well, although I didn't really feel like it was an "enhanced" performance. Other than the increased alertness, which may or may not have helped me limit my turnovers, I think the energy boost was fairly negligible. Maybe if I'd been really exhausted going in it might have done more for me.
As an aside, my friends and I have discovered another valuable use for the 5-hour Energy. A group of us took it one night during a major bender, mostly so that we'd be able to stay up and drink longer. It certainly accomplished that feat. We closed out the bars and nobody fell asleep on the long drive back from downtown Chicago to the suburbs, which is a trip that usually results in most of the car passing out. (Don't worry; we use a designated driver.) And the post-drinking burritos never tasted so good, although, admittedly, that might have had more to do with the beer than the 5-hour Energy.
More importantly, nobody suffered a hangover. Not one of us. We didn't even get our usual case of group beersomnia
. And mind you, one of my friends, G-Man, regularly suffers the worst hangovers known to man. No, really. He almost always ends up with a terrible migraine and spends the following day throwing up and crawling around in agony. That has not happened once since he started using 5-hour Energy in preparation for a night out on the town. Conversely, he has endured his typical hangovers the few times he has either forgotten or neglected to use it.
So 5-hour Energy (probably) won't improve your game, whether it's basketball, little league, or backgammon. But it could allow you to drink to excess without repercussions. And that's no small thing.
Labels: 5-hour energy, beersomnia, pickup basketball