Don’t Drink the Water


Remember when there was no need for bottled water? When you just took a drink because you were thirsty? When you ran full speed ahead to the bubbler at the park and you were all sweaty, and you stood on the bottom rim, turning that rusty knob with your dirty little hand? And remember gulping down a half a gallon of relief before jumping off and returning to TV tag or Red Rover, Red Rover or dodge ball?
Well, my sweet Sven does too.
Only he didn't play TV tag or Red Rover, Red Rover or dodge ball.
He was too busy kissing Miss Kitty up in that wagon in that barn behind his house. Because he always got to be Matt Dillon while poor Eugene always had to be Festus, and they sent Festus off hunting down the bad guys in whatever direction they pointed.
But that was a long time ago.
And we all grew up.
Even Festus.
Sort of.

My Sweet Sven turned out to be frugal after several decades.
He is a waste not, want not kind of a man.
And bottled water gets him right in the craw.
"It's a racket," he says.
I prefer water fresh out of a fountain myself, but I don't carry a grudge against bottles like Sven. I will stoop to buying one every now and then.
And then Sven just drinks out of mine.
But I like water the best in the middle of the night.
I wake up. I reach for it without even opening my eyes. I take a few cold slugs, set it back down, flip my pillow over, adjust my covers and go right back to sleep.
Unless of course I have to pee.
Each night as we are getting ready for bed, I say, "Honey, would you like some new water?"
Sven examines his ration, which is in a large, red, Wisconsin Badger, beer barrel shaped, mug.
He keeps it on the night stand next to his head instead of on the little ledge he made as our headboard.
I'm glad. Because we would both be involuntarily baptized if he were to knock it over while reaching for it in the dark.
I on the other hand live more dangerously because I have more spunk.
I keep my tall plastic tumbler on the ledge.
Right above my head.
Now being that Sven does not like to waste anything, he only likes that mug of his to be half full. He takes a refill from me, Water Woman, to half full, every other night.
"No thanks," he will answer on the nights in between refills. "I still have some."
I would quit asking him the same question all the time, but it is hard to recall if he took a refill the previous evening or not. Because even though going to bed is an exciting event in our household each night, they all seem the same and that makes it hard to recall the answer to the question the night before.
It's like when you can't remember the last time you opened your door, which direction your cat was headed.
Our Mai-Mai passed away more than a couple of years ago already, and I still can't remember if she is in or out.
But just the other week I came to realize that she really is gone.
As I was squeezing a toothpaste onto my brush that falsely advertises, guaranteed-glamorous-white-teeth, I said, "Honey, do you need new water?"
And he says....
And he...
And he says....
And he...
Okay, brace yourself.
I wish I would have had a second or two to pull myself together, like I am giving you the chance, so that instead of falling apart and screaming and waving that toothbrush in the air and getting toothpaste all over the place and freaking out Hunter, the dog, who had been curled up on his bed and quiet, for once, Sven says point blank, "There's a dead mouse in here."
I say, "There's a dead mouse in where?"
"In my cup."
And then Sven heads toward me, holding his cup out in front of himself.
I start yelling things like, "No! Do not come in here! Sven, stop! I am going to kill you if you come in here with that. Do not let me see that mouse."
And he just waltzes right into the bathroom in his skivvies, right past me and I see the horrific scene. The scene that I specifically asked very loudly, not to see.
The picture of the poor floating creature is branded into my memory.
When I blink, I can see it.
So, I am starting to run low on Visine and those drops for dry eyes.
Don't get me wrong.
I don't mind mice.
I don't mind spiders.
And I don't even really mind snakes.
As long as they are nowhere near me.
What I don't like are tragedies, near or far, big or small, in a war, in car, or in a cup.
And unfortunately, the furry little critter who went for a swim in Sven's mug didn't know how to do the back stroke.
Or maybe he did, but perhaps he didn't realize that the pool he dove into didn't have a ladder and he couldn't tread water indefinitely.
After a not very proper burial with just the flush of a handle, Sven says, "I think I will take some new water tonight."
I just stared at him.
"And maybe in a new glass."
As we got into bed, we began to ponder things like, why was there a mouse in Sven's cup? Why was there a mouse in our house? Did this mouse come from a large family? Where does the rest of his family live? Was he running over the top of us before he took the plunge?
And that big question.
Did Sven or did Sven not, take a sip out of that mug the night before? And if he did take a sip out of that mug the night before, was that mouse in there splashing around and gasping for air, only to have his hopes raised that he would be saved when Sven tipped the glass toward his lips, and then his hopes dashed when Sven just sucked a little bit of water out and set that cup down next to his head again, leaving the water level still too deep for his feet to touch the bottom and too shallow to be able to climb out?
"I think I did hear some rustling around last night," Sven says.
"I did hear some weird noises."
"Oh, my God."
"Maybe we should get another cat," he says.
"Hunter would eat a cat."
"Maybe we should trade Hunter in for a cat."
"Maybe we should drink bottled water."

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