Me (on the left) and my sister Kari, watching Grandpa feed the lamb- Skidmore, Texas 1979
As a kid, one of my favorite places to visit was my grandparents' house in Skidmore, Texas. Unless you are born in Skidmore, or you are related to someone who lives there, chances are you have never heard of it. But my grandparents house was incredibly fun. At different times throughout my childhood they had chickens, sheep, cows, and even a Shetland pony that my sister Kari laid claim to and named Jennifer. Grandma and Grandpa's house had woods that you could get lost in for hours and a little creek running behind the woods, marking where their property ended and someone else's began. They had an electric fence that I was always afraid of, even though my cousins and I regularly dared one another to touch it. No way was I touching it, even when they swore it was turned off. There were fields that we ran through, careful to avoid the cow patties and the stickers. (I don't what you people call them outside of Texas, but they stuck to my socks and shoelaces and hurt like heck when you tried to pull them off.) We slept on the hide-a-bed in the living room with the window unit air conditioner roaring loudly to keep us cool in the summer. We woke up to the smell of coffee and bacon, and my grandpa could almost always be found sitting at the head of the kitchen table in his starched Wranglers and his ribbed white tank top undershirt working overtime to cover his belly. We watched The Price is Right every morning, but the commercials in between were always muted. Grandma's fragile nerves couldn't handle the volume of advertisements, apparently. But with all of the sweet memories I have of my grandparents, one of the most memorable things about trips to their house was their water. It was disgusting.
I tried to like it. Really, I did. And I even pretended to like it. Grandma and Grandpa loved it, and I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. So when we went go for a visit, I would buck up and get out a glass and drink right from the tap. I didn't complain. In fact, I faked liking it so well that when they broke down and bought a water cooler for their kitchen, complete with decent tasting purified water, I was the lone grandchild that stuck with the well water. I was obligated at that point. I couldn't give up the act.
The water was so hard that nothing rinsed off. Many times I stood in front of the bathroom sink, trying desperately to make the lather from my grandpa's green bar of lava soap (which felt like sandpaper on my little kid hands) rinse off. And it wouldn't. Nothing rinsed off. Even shampoo and conditioner stuck to my hair like glue. I learned to be careful about how much of anything I applied to my body that I didn't want to stay there.
I don't know when I became a water snob. I was so easy to please back in the day, drinking mineral-filled well water by the gallons, pretending to love it. But somewhere along the way, I lost my tap water drinking roots. And now, I drink 99.9% bottled water, unless I am at a restaurant. And not just bottled water, spring water. I don't do purified water. I hate the taste of it. I don't do Aquafina or Dasani unless it's the only thing available (and even then I have to be really thirsty). Spring water. Only spring water. I feel like David Duchovny's annoying date Marcia on the movie Return to Me. She requests a bottle of water (no Swiss, preferably French water, no bubbles, cold, no ice, no glass, just the bottle and the straw) and then doesn't even notice when Minnie Driver replaces her bottled water with water straight from the tap. And I hate that. I hate being high maintenance. I don't want to be David Duchovny's annoying date Marcia.
My water snobbery has bled over into my ice preferences. I don't like the weird, crescent-shaped ice that comes from freezer ice makers because it forms to the cup and blocks my drink, causing me to overtip the glass and pour my drink all over my face. I am clumsy enough all by myself without having my ice and glass work against me. Regular cube ice from ice machines is okay. It's acceptable. It works, but it's not my favorite. I prefer Sonic ice. It's small, easily crunched. Dissolves a little too quickly, but you put it into an insulated cup and it's the perfect ice.
Recently I read an article about the safety of tap water vs. bottled water. Did you know that the guidelines for tap water are more stringent than they are for bottled water? Spring water actually contains more bacteria than tap water. And honestly, the visual of bacteria swimming around in my bottles of water is just kind of gross. Plus bottled water is expensive. I buy the cheapest stuff out there, but it adds up. And the waste from the plastic bottles... every time I throw one in the trash I imagine my children (that I don't have yet) growing up and being forced to live in the middle of a landfill because of all the things I didn't recycle.
And so... I am going back to tap water. At least for now. I have moved to a new city with water that doesn't taste like metal. We are going to try to use the weird moon shaped ice because our new apartment has a fancy ice maker, which our last apartment didn't have. I may not make it. The water snob in me might resurface, and I might go back to buying what comes out of my faucet for free. Well, not free, but almost free in comparison. So if you come to my house, don't plan for anything fancy. We will serve you tap water (because we rarely buy Cokes and such) and ice right out of our freezer, hard enough to crack your teeth. You might not love the taste, but we will never run out. I think Grandma and Grandpa would be proud.