When she was hungry she would come outside and have something to say to me. It went something like this, “Have you been waiting for me?”
“I haven’t been waiting for you. I’ve been sitting here minding my own business,” I said. “Why do you ask?
“I am interested in knowing if you have been waiting for me because I need three dollars for a hot dog and a coke.”
“Do you buy the coke from the fountain machine?”
“Where the Big Gulps come out?” she asked me.
“Next to where the Big Gulps come out,” I said.
“Naw,” she said. “I get a bottle, because they are always screwing up the formula for the machine. They can’t read, or won’t read the direction at that place. It doesn’t really matter which.”
“What doesn’t matter?”
“If they don’t read or can’t read the directions,” she said. “It doesn’t matter because it results in the same thing. I just get myself a bottle. There is quality control in a bottle. When I was staying at my friend Sarah’s house, we were watching this show–”
“–I think I saw that one.”
“You saw that one? Do you even know what I was going to say?”
“I do know what you were going to say. I saw this show where they compared bottled water to tap water. There was this other show, Penn and Teller, and in that show Penn and Teller like went around looking at where bottled water came from, and it came from some really disgusting places. It came from places like these gross springs with all kinds of gunk in addition to water coming out of it. It was really bad. And people would pay top dollar for water with gunk in it. They even had this water tasting, you know like a wine tasting. They had this tasting, and they were getting their water from the back, out of a garden house. The maitre d was crapping himself. He was delighted to fill the bottles with this water. They pointed out that this water came from the tap. And you know, tap water turned out not to be so bad. There are all of these regulations about water that comes out of a tap. It has to be inspected. It has to be approved by some federal agency. Bottled water can come from anywhere.”
“Yeah, I saw that show, but I saw a different show, too,” she said. “In the show I saw, they said the water that comes out of your tap is horrible. Between the place where the government tests it, and your house, all kind of bad things happen. Pipes are rusted. Some of them are made out of wood. Those wood pipes were laid a hundred years ago, and the water you put into you mouth goes through them! Imagine that.”
I tried to imagine that, but I couldn’t imagine that. It seemed incredible to think about pipes a hundred years old. I would be drinking wood that had been cut down a hundred years ago. It was hard to imagine that. The world was a confusing place, I had that to give her.
“Those three dollars?” she asked.
I have her three dollars for a hot dog and a coke.