February 18, 2020
In the pages of Salon, where our progressive betters ruminate, Nicole Karlis ponders the latest fashionable anxiety. Specifically,
Stories of heartache, tears, stress and dehydration that people experienced after a forced separation from their water bottles.
Says Ms Karlis,
I have an irrational fear of the water bottle going missing, resulting in suddenly being thirsty and unable to access water. For the record, I did not start using a reusable water bottle until I moved to the Bay Area in 2013.
Perhaps this is one of those moments when the significance of a statement may not be fully appreciated by the person making it.
Carrying a water bottle with me everywhere I go has turned into… a form of security, one that I’ve become strangely attached to... I am not alone. Plenty of people in my orbit have expressed a similar concern — an unease, really — at the prospect of misplacing their reusable water bottle.
Now, now. We mustn’t rush to judgement.
For many, losing one’s water bottle will wreak havoc on their day, even their week.
I’m trying. I really am.
I sent out a query to the public to see if others felt what I am now calling “water-bottle separation anxiety.” I received over a dozen responses, suggesting that I may have tapped into a cultural phenomenon – one that relates as much to health and psychology as it does to our complicated personal relationship with natural resources.
What follows is a catalogue of unobvious woe and amateur dramatics. “Activist Manuela Barón” - whose area of activism is left fashionably unspecified - explains how her ancient, battered water bottle had become a “part of” her, and how the loss of it, at airport security, resulted in a swell of emotional activity:
“I cried as I went through the scanner and ran off to my gate; I didn’t realise it would be like saying goodbye to an old friend.”
At which point, it occurs to me I may be misusing the word explain.
Lynell Ross, “a founder and editor who lives in California,” shares another tearful saga, in which the temporary misplacement of her water bottle left her “devastated.” And reduced to using a mug.
“It honestly threw off my entire day,” Ross said in an email.
Theresa Leskowat, “a therapist in North Carolina,” is, it seems, similarly afflicted, and tells us how she spends her days “reaching for my phantom water bottle.” Other accounts are more intense and aspire to the realm of opera:
Mary Kate Celini… told me via email that her water bottle is her “sidekick in daily activities.” She’s been carrying a 32-ounce reusable water bottle every day for six years.
And then tragedy struck.
“Recently, my partner took it when we were at the gym and he left it behind; My world felt like it was falling into chaos.”
Falling into chaos.
Ms Karlis goes on to mull “our” attachment to the plastic water bottle as a “an object that provides a sense of comfort.” (The word our, needless to say, is bearing quite a load there.)
I can’t help but think the attachment is emblematic of something deeper. In a world where we are constantly inundated with news about climate change, the attachment to our reusable water bottles could be more about a fear of our basic needs not being met by nature.
Or maybe it’s more to do with a particular demographic being prone to neurotic behaviour, or professing such, at least. Say, people within the orbit of Salon columnists, and all-purpose “activists” who respond to humdrum non-events by bursting into tears.
Feel free to tickle my button.