Sunday, June 2, 2013


It's an unusually hot day here in New England.  We scramble off to run our errands, always remembering to bring our water bottles.

Thirty or more years ago, we never worried about water.  But today we stock up on cases of bottled water, or we tote with us stainless steel or plastic bottles to refill.  Even my camera bag has an outer pocket specifically designed for a water bottle.

I remember the period in the late 1970s in which bottled water emerged.  It was Perrier that started advertising on television.  I don't remember their commercials, but I do remember Robin Williams' comedy routine in which he satirizes them.  (Captured on "Reality, What a Concept.")  "When I want to blow a dollar on a bottle of water, I buy Perrier."  Then there was Saturday Night Live's skit, which I cannot even find the words to describe.  They were funny because back then nobody drank water -- it was something you mostly watered plants with, or washed the car with, or peed in and then flushed.  And it was free.  Paying a company to bottle it for you so you could drink it was bizarre.

I remember being thirsty when I was a boy.  There was the time I was at summer camp, confined to the gym and forbidden from going into the hall to drink from the water fountain.  I pleaded for a drink and the camp counselor pointed to a crowd of boys in a corner.  As I got closer I saw a sweaty boy sucking from a half gallon bottle of Pepsi, the other boys begging for him to share.  I was grossed out.

Another time was during a car ride with my mother who was running errands.  I kept saying, "I'm thirsty.  I'm thirsty!"  When she stopped to pay a bill at the dentist, I was filled with hope.  I asked her to get me a little paper cup of water.  But she came out empty-handed.  Not many cars had air conditioning back then.  Ours certainly didn't.  And its interior was black.

At the half-times of soccer games, we'd get sections of oranges to refresh us.  Sometimes there was a two-gallon cooler of water for the whole team to share.  But at the end of one soccer game, I remember being driven to drink from a nearby stream.  "Are you crazy?  People pee in that stream!" they all said.  I didn't care.  But my father shook his head solemnly and gave me one of his looks.

Maybe all these memories of thirst are fueling our current obsession with water.  What are your memories of thirst?


Rummuser said...

India goes through regular seasons of drought in different parts of the country and we are no strangers to shortage of water either to drink or for irrigation. In the state that I live in we had a failed monsoon last year and we have just had pre-monsoon showers and the met forecasts normal monsoon. I have many experiences of thirst during my salesman days when bottled water was not available and we went looking for bottled soda to quench our thirsts in rural India. Luckily, now it is not too bad.

Square Peg Guy said...

Thank you for sharing. A severe and prolonged drought shows just how important water is to our survival. We refrain from washing as often, crops wither, and even more livestock than usual are slaughtered to save the rest. During USA's "Dustbowl," wind blew away fertile topsoil.

My daughter has a classmate from Australia who lived with "harsh" water rationing.

We are very lucky to have an abundance of water today.