I spent most of my last marriage explaining myself to my husband. Of all the truths about me which annoyed him, perhaps the irk which I found most confusing was his insistence that I drink tap water.
I understand the arguments in favor of tap water — it’s there, we already paid for it, it’s cheap, it doesn’t come in plastic bottles that last for an eternity and pollute the ocean. But my then-husband did not employ any of those. In fact, his Republican heart resisted even acknowledging the validity of what he considered liberal propaganda. Instead, he thought I should drink tap water because it was better for me than other kinds of water.
But I won’t drink it, I countered. I don’t like the way it tastes. It isn’t at all good for me if I don’t consume it. I continued drinking — and paying for — what I called “delivered water”. I chose a brand which claimed to be spring water. I didn’t really care where the water originated. I liked the way it tasted. I drank it. I stayed hydrated.
Perversely, when we traveled, he didn’t insist that I fill and carry a water bottle. He would buy Fiji water for me, for reasons that I still do not understand. But otherwise he would belligerently and often loudly insist that I should just drink tap water. After a while, I did not argue. I don’t care to endure loud voices, so I would just smile and walk into another room. While there, I would fetch myself a glass of water from the dispenser and enjoy it out on the porch.
I recently discovered a brand of spring water called Icelandic. The name caught my eye at the Sprouts in Lodi because I read a lot of crime fiction set in Iceland. I doubt that I will ever travel abroad but if I do, that’s one of the places which I long to visit. I tried the brand based upon the allure of the country for which it is named. I found that I liked it better than any other type, which is saying something since I think I have tried most of them.
This water costs $2.49 for a 1000 ml bottle. No one but Sprouts carries the brand in my area. I drive into Lodi on Fridays to get groceries, sundries, and this bottled water. Every once in a while, it goes on sale. Since I drink a bottle of it every day, I value those sales. Sprouts has other spring water, including a brand called Flow which is only $1.99 per bottle and tastes almost as good as Icelandic though not quite. And yes, I know, I can turn on the tap and get water for much cheaper. But I won’t, will I? so what difference does it make?
I chill my bottled water and make sure that I drink it from pretty vessels. Sometimes I raise a glass of cold Icelandic to my ex-husband, for whom I hold no malice and even a fair amount of regard. He’s right about one thing. Drinking water is good for me.
It’s the twenty-second day of the ninetieth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
“Good morning,” said the little prince.
“Good morning,” said the merchant.
This was a merchant who sold pills that had been invented to quench thirst. You need only swallow one pill a week, and you would feel no need of anything to drink.
“Why are you selling those?” asked the little prince.
“Because they save a tremendous amount of time,” said the merchant. “Computations have been made by experts. With these pills, you save fifty-three minutes in every week.”
“And what do I do with those fifty-three minutes?”
“Anything you like . . .”
“As for me,” said the little prince to himself, “if I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked, I should walk at my leisure toward a spring of fresh water.”
Chapter 23, The Little Prince
written and illustrated by
Antoine de Saint Exupéry
translated from the French by Katherine Woods