Thomm Quackenbush, author

Bottled Tap Water

Coca Cola recently was publicly forced to admit their brand of bottled water Dasani was not, as their mountainous label might imply, bottled at the source of some untouched mountain stream high in the mythical lands where pollution cannot reach. The water might have once been part of a mountain stream, but it is as reasonable to label it such as it would be to call it Dino Washington Water, statistically having been filtered through the kidneys of both sauropods and former presidents.

You laugh at this, because you didn't actually ever think it was anything more than tap water, which, to many people's chagrin, it truly is. Coca Cola pours some tap water out, puts it through a process called reverse osmosis, adds a few salts, and puts it in a bottle with a price tag of more than a dollar. Despite the fact that it should cost somewhere in the neighborhood of a dime -- if we are being generous about how much a plastic bottle costs and despite the fact that most people could get water that is just as clean by opening up the nearest faucet - the public is utterly shocked.

Dasani, needless to say, did brisk business up to this point. They were one of the top brands of bottled waters. Oh yes, there are others. There is actually a water bar in New York City where the clientele shell out as much as $30 for a bottle of water. No, I am not joking. No, nothing has tainted our clean drinking water and thus driven the price up exponentially as we fight each other with laser chainsaws in a post-apocalyptic battle for survival and supremacy. People simply are willing to pay more for the illusion that the colorless, odorless, tasteless beverage they are pouring down their gullet is slightly purer than what they can get from their bathtub.

One of the more expensive water commonly available is Evian, which people still delight in pointing out is "naïve" spelled backward. Given that people needed to be told Dasani was tap water, this might not actually be coincidental. In the developing world, bottled water makes sense. Their source water may not be pure or one may simply want to drink something that doesn't taste quite so like chlorine. Of course, you imagine it must be difficult to fork over the equivalent of one American dollar if one comes from a place without the basic enough sanitation not to need bottled water.

Most interesting is why people were finally told that Dasani was tap water, since Dasani was not actually shy about revealing this fact. All of this came about because Dasani was being sold in England and the British Food Standards Agency took issue with the fact that the marketing referred to the drink as "pure," implying that tap water from which it directly derived was anything but. Others are thrilled at this turn of events because the majority of plastic bottles containing lightly filtered tap water are not recycled, leading to unnecessary pollution. This ignores all of the plastic soda and juice bottles being littered, but I suppose we cannot easily get hot and cold running root beer from our taps and that justifies their bottles slightly more.

As I must do around this time in my communiqués to you, I should point out that you are a filthy hypocrite. You drink bottled water, mostly because your fiancée asks you to buy it and it is minimally more convenient to grab a bottle than pour from your filtered pitcher of water in the refrigerator (years ago, your mother equated a neighbor's spontaneous cancer with drinking from the tap and you have avoided doing it since). You buy it only in bulk and genuinely make an effort to recycle 95% of the bottles you encounter, but you are far from guiltless in this. The plastic still has to be created from oil and shipped from whatever local water supply is being called pristine at the moment.

You know that this "shocking" revelation will be quickly forgotten or disregarded because people are simply not sensible enough not to fork over their hard earned cash for something they can get almost for free. No one ever went poor underestimating people.

Instead of recycling your water bottles, you are now shutting them tight for the not too distant day when bottled air comes into vogue. You initially considered this a joke, but a moment of research revealed oxygen bars in Japan. You had better begin bottling immediately.


Xen is sending the text of these essays back in time to his prepubescent self using advanced technology and fairy dust. That you can manage to read them as well is only a glitch in the servers.
Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings.


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