“America is running out of White Claw hard seltzer… White Claw is a victim of its own success: The hard seltzer brand confirmed a nationwide shortage in the United States, sparked by the drink’s rising popularity.” — CNN, 9/6/19
The wind blew hard over the dusty, dusty Oklahoma fields. It seemed like nowadays, ever since the Claw went away, dust was everywhere: in the air, in the streets, piled up in neat, little hills at the foot of the bedspread, where, imperceptibly, it blew its way into one’s very dreams. (For, of course, even in sleep, the dust was inescapable).
Tom and Ma Joad looked out at the dry cornfields in front of them and felt their hearts grow weak… If only there were a delicious, low-calorie, 5% ABV seltzer around to rehydrate the parched fields.
But, now, thanks to that damned national shortage, the Claw was long gone. Gone from the dive bars of Tulsa. Gone from the sorority houses of OSU. And, most importantly of all, gone from the dusty countryside that extended Sahara-like in front of them.
And without the Claw, how could the Joads grow the corn they needed to survive?
How indeed? wondered Tom Joad silently.
“The family’s a’ headin’ down to Texas, Tom,” announced Ma Joad, her well-worn gingham gown fluttering in the dusty wind like a tattered pirate sail.
“Yeah? An’ what’s Texas got that we don’t?” replied Tom, spitting the dust out of his seltzer-less mouth. Tom wished that his mouth wasn’t so godforsaken dry all the time… But, now, thanks to that DAMNED national shortage, what else was he supposed to drink? Water? Iced Tea? Mike’s Hard Lemonade? Tom retched at the thought.
“Y’know, we heard a rumor they a’ got White Claw as far as the eye can see ‘round Texas… Ol’ Jim Casy says a fraternity bought $7,500 worth of White Claw round there, not but a few days ago.”
“That so?” asked Tom.
“Seems so,” replied Ma.
“Hmm,” replied Tom, laconically.
Tom looked down and saw a turtle inching its way through the dust in front of him. Silently, Tom wondered if the turtle was, perhaps, a metaphor for the never-ending plight of the Oklahoma migrant farmer. Or, maybe, he mused, the turtle was just a regular, old, non-allegorical turtle (because not every single thing has to be a metaphor, John Steinbeck).
Either way, Tom didn’t know.
All Tom knew was that the Claw was gone from Oklahoma.
Now everything was terrible.
“We don’t really hafta leave just ‘cause the Claw disappeared, do we Ma?” muttered Tom.
“Seems to me like we don’t got much of a choice, I reckon… we’re Claw folk, Tom. It’s all we know. ‘Sides, what’re we s’posed to do instead? Drink Miller Lite like we’re some kinda highfalutin Milwaukee city slickers? Or you sayin’ we should drink Budweiser? That what you’re sayin’ Tom? You think I can keep my perfectly-sculpted cheekbones with all them calories in Budweiser, Tom?”
Tom shrugged sadly, and reminisced back to the good old days. He still remembered when the world was fresh and new. And the air was carbonated. And it tasted like delicious, Ruby Grapefruit-flavored White Claw (or any of White Claw’s other 5 incredible, gluten-free flavors). But that was years and years ago.
Now the air just tasted like dust. Dust and broken memories.
And everything was terrible.
“Y’know, we could always drink Truly-brand hard seltzer, Ma.”
“Git that devil speak out of your mouth, Tom.”
“But it’s basically the same drink, Ma!”
“THIS IS A WHITE CLAW FAMILY, Y’HEAR ME!” erupted Ma Joad, her eyes afire. “AND IF YOU WANNA DRINK TRULY BRAND HARD SELTZER, THAT’S YOUR CROSS TO BEAR! BUT I WILL NOT LAY IDLY ASIDE AND LET THIS FAM’LY SIP AN OFF-BRAND HARD SELTZER WHEN THERE’S COOL, REFRESHIN’ WHITE CLAW BY THE BUSHEL DOWN ROUND IN DALLAS! OR ARE YOU CALLIN’ OL’ JIM CASY A LIAR, BOY???”
“I’M SORRY MA!” screamed Tom Joad, as the turtle ducked into its shell and hid.
“I’m-I’m sorry, Ma,” repeated Tom, shakily. “I’m just scairt of change, I s’pose.”
“We all are,” replied Ma, a single tear dropping out of her eye and onto the parched land beneath her.
The dusty soil swallowed up the tearstain almost immediately. But Tom could tell that the land wasn’t thirsty for water anymore. It was thirsty for the Claw. But the Claw was nowhere to be found.
Maybe, Tom thought, maybe Ma was right…
Maybe there was a light at the end of the tunnel…
Maybe the Claw was out round in Texas…
But, in his heart of hearts, Tom knew that it was not.