Saturday, April 20, 2013

Waterlogged - Calgary Sun Column, March 28, 2013

By Stephen Lautens

On a recent family expedition my son announced he was thirsty. Not unexpected considering he had just polished off a whole bag of candy at the movie we had just left.

“Can you buy me some water?” he asked as we passed the theatre concession stand on the way out.

He had found one of my few sore points – I hate buying water. I especially hate buying water in a movie theatre. They charge desert island prices for any liquid, and to pay four bucks for a bottle of water offends me when I have a tap full of it at home.

In fact, I hate buying water almost as much as I hate carrying it around with me. In the past decade or so, the plastic bottle of water has become the official accessory for life on the go. Politicians can’t say six words on camera without reaching for a swig of what I assume is water. The rest of us hump around canteens and bottles of the stuff on a daily basis like we’re off on an expedition to cross the Sahara Desert.

Personally, I probably only take in a cup or two of liquids a day – mostly what I don’t spit out after brushing my teeth. My grandmother was the same. She used to advise us to not drink water. “It’ll rust your pipes,” she’d say reaching for the sherry.

That baloney about drinking eight or nine big glasses of water a day? I tried it for a week. Instead of my camel-like usual three or so bathroom breaks a day, I was leaving my desk every fifteen minutes. Health benefits? Zero. Productivity? Also zero.

I can understand how athletes need to keep hydrated, but I don’t think I’ve broken a good sweat since about 1997. Most of us aren’t doing anything more strenuous than picking the kids up from karate lessons or checking your monthly bill to see if your cell provider is overcharging you.

I’ve personally always thought bottled water was a bit of a crock, unless there is some sort of emergency like a zombie apocalypse or there’s only light beer left in the fridge.

About a quarter of all the bottled water sold in the US actually comes from city water supplies. That’s right - it comes from the same place the rest of us get our water when we turn on the tap. Of course it gets “triple filtered”, “ionized” and given a label with a frosty glacier, but it starts its life as plain old city water.

As people catch on that water is just water, companies start adding things to it, like vitamins, ginger extract and fizz. We already have a name for that – ginger ale.

My friends look at me like I’m a rube when I turn down their designer water imported from some developing country in favour of a glass straight from the tap. I have also been known to drink it out of the garden hose on a hot summer day.

My son – who won’t touch the stuff at home – only wants water when he senses a sip will cost his old man at least three bucks and five minutes in a line to buy it.

As I hustle him past the counter, I tell him that we’re going to test that medical wisdom that the human body can survive up to three days without water and see if he can make it home without fatal dehydration. If he’s really lucky, in the warmer weather I’ll treat him to a drink straight out of the garden hose. 

No extra charge