Back Off Get Your Own Water Bottle!

I bought a jazzy, new 24 oz water bottle in an effort to drink however much water Dr. Oz says I should in a day. Before this purchase, the only liquid I typically consumed in a twenty-four hour period was a small coffee and maybe some melted ice-cream. I am pleased to report that I have now upped my water intake and trips to the bathroom, exponentially. As it turns out, I have the smallest bladder known to mankind so this water thing better make my skin dewy and amazing because it is negatively impacting my productivity.

Admiring my new bottle, my husband Stephen took a sip from it. He started commenting on its functionality but trailed off when he noticed my look of despair.

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

“Nothing. I just wish you hadn’t done that.”


“Because I’m thirsty.”

“Are you seriously not going to drink from it now that I took a sip?”

I hung my head, unable to meet his well-hydrated gaze. I could sense he was offended.

“I’m offended,” he said, “Take a drink right now!” He thrust the bottle at me, egging me on like we were at a Binghamton University frat party. “Drink it! Drink it!”

I wanted to. I did. I held the bottle up to my lips but just couldn’t bring myself to drink from it without washing it in hot water first.

For as long as I can remember, I have had an overactive ick reflex when it comes to sharing consumables with people or having them touch things that may come into contact with my mouth. It’s not that I am scared of catching germs, or anything, and subsequently getting sick; it’s nothing that rational at all. I just find it gross. When watching the Fear Factor holiday edition, it wasn’t the thought of having to eat the reindeer testicles that had me gagging, as much as the fact that Joe Rogan touched them when he made up the plates.

Over the years I have developed a number of formulas and devices to save me from dry heaving in public. If I buy a drink, for example, I have to press the straw dispenser exactly three times to retrieve the third straw. Likewise, shopping at the grocery store, I can’t take any can or package that is in the front but must retrieve items that are further back. Don’t even get me started on buffets. Or milk. In fact, I think dairy products of any kind shouldn’t be consumed anywhere but one’s home.I can’t have my fork touching the table at any restaurant whether I am eating at McDonald’s or Buckingham Palace. I’m not entirely OCD though, I do put my knife down on the table and rest my fork on top of it. I’ve worked hard on that one.

The hardest challenge is with my nieces and nephews, who always want to lick my ice-cream or generously share with me whatever half-eaten goldfish or animal crackers they are eating. I have to surrender my cone as soon as they touch it, which is particularly annoying if it’s something amazing like a scoop of mint chocolate chip. And then they get two ice-creams while I get none! I must also pretend to eat the wet crumbs they give me, all the while trying not to appear crazy. But I am crazy. When I play with little ones, I even have difficulty pretending to eat the pretend sandwiches they make for me in their pretend kitchens. How do I know how often they pretend to clean? I’ll delay having to eat by sending back my fake plate to the fake kitchen for a fake pickle.      

I am usually okay sharing things with Stephen, but the sliding mouth mechanism of this particular water bottle created a guber-like receptacle that I couldn’t get past.

I repeated this story to my friend, hoping that while she may not be able to assuage my neurosis, she could at least alleviate my guilt about being a bad partner.

“I don’t understand,” she began, “don’t you kiss him? What’s the difference?”

“Didn’t you hear me? I said Guber? Receptacle?”   

Reflecting on this though, I realized that my friend really is right. Physiologically and neurotically speaking, there is no real difference between kissing  someone and drinking from the same water bottle as him; which is why I have decided to give up kissing. I don’t know what I was thinking putting my lips DIRECTLY on someone else’s, like my husband’s!

There was this book I read many years ago called Millard Fillmore, Mon Amour, a story about a man named Plato G. Fussell who, in addition to writing a ten volume biography of the thirteenth President, is searching for his one true love and “an acceptable degree of worldwide cleanliness.”

Plato meets a pretty young woman with whom he begins to fall in love but prior to engaging in intercourse with her, he requires that she produce health records and, immediately prior to the act, wash with surgical soap. Is this where I’m headed? Is this the next stop on the crazy train, scouring myself with surgical soap? I have really sensitive skin and don’t think it could tolerate that. What’s the point of drinking all this cleansing water if my skin is going to be rubbed red and splotchy?

These habits of mine are exhausting and restrictive. They can spoil a nice dinner out, a picnic in the park or a chocolate Popsicle if the convenience store clerk touches the stick instead of the plastic wrapper. I have tried working on these things, have tried to change them but I can’t. I am instead just trying to hold onto my own status quo and not accumulate any more neurosis. Because in trying to stop these antics, I end up more tired and frustrated than if I had just put my fork on my knife in the first place. I think my energy is better spent trying to minimize the effect of my eccentricities on those around me. I’m used to them. And while these tendencies impact my day-to-day life, I don’t want them to bother anyone else. I don’t want them to be an issue for Stephen, which is why I went out and bought him his very own water bottle.