Water-Logged Too Many Miles

by Kenneth Lourie

It may be my imagination or my shrewd consumer instincts, but it seems nearly every week thereís either a new brand or a brand-new size, shape or color container of bottled water for sale. Not that itís my mission or business to know such things; rather itís more a casual observation of the advertising circulars stuffed into the Sunday newspapers and of the water-aisle displays in the local supermarket.

No more is the choice exclusively a gallon jug or home delivery of the 6-gallon-size, free-standing, office-variety water cooler. Now (effective when I canít recall) water is more portable than ever, and potable, too.

Competing to master this domain are ďMoland Springs,Ē Snow Valley, Deer Park, Polar, Dannon, Aquafina, Crystal Geyser, Dasani, DrinkMore, Poland Spring, Canadian Naturelle, Great Bear, Mountain Valley, Evian (of course) and Amelia Springs, in addition to every storeís house brand, to name but a few. And there are varied sizes too - .5 liter, 1 liter, 8-ounce, 11.2-ounce, 12-ounce, 16-ounce, 16.9-ounce, 22-ounce and 24-ounce - and shapes - short and fat, tall and thin, long of neck and big of mouth - to fit every hand (and mouth) and accommodate every lifestyle. America is on the move, and drinking bottled water where and while you work, play, shop, drive, exercise and live has become as ubiquitous as the advertising promoting it.

But water, however necessary to oneís overall good health, does not have to be consumed so very publicly to have its most positive effect. And Iím positively not bothered by people drinking from a water fountain or at any public/private event where hosts/concessionaires are offering water by the bottle. No, what bothers me is seeing people living their ďnormal livesĒ - running errands, driving the kids, shopping for dinner, etc. - drinking bottled water like itís going out of style, as if they know something about living a healthy life that the rest of us mere mortal, dehydrated, non-bottled-water-drinkers donít. Moreover itís as if their bottled-water-drinking elevates them somehow. And I especially dislike people who wear or carry specifically designed, water-carrying gear like their lifestyles are so dynamic and so evolved, and their bodies so finely tuned - like they were prized thoroughbreds - that any delay in their water consumption, any deviation from their norm, however slight, would adversely affect their metabolic metamorphosis and ultimately lead to a premature death.

Donít get me wrong. I love water. In fact, over the years, when dining out with my parents, Iíve been drinking my motherís water (and eating most of her French fries too) when the waiterís refill was a little slow, so Iím not against the idea. What I am against is its public consumption being forced down my throat - almost literally - by all the advertisements, all the brands, all the sizes, all the time, by all these people.

Look, I have no beef with water-drinkers who are following doctorís orders and have legitimate medical needs. The meat of my complaint is against those individuals who, it seems, would drink bottled water 24 hours a day, seven days a week and twice on Sunday if they could. Because only theyíre committed enough to wade through their daily routine, bottled water in hand. More evidence that theyíre aware and Iím not.

Well, Iím aware all right. Aware that even though drinking bottled water in public is acceptable, perhaps even admirable, that doesnít necessarily make it tolerable. Itís not exactly breast-feeding where the health of the baby is to be considered. No, drinking water is more voluntary, and as such, Iíd like to volunteer a little advice - drink responsibly, not continuously.

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.