Our drinking problem
I looked a homeless man square in the eye the other day and said, “No, sorry,” when approached to buy a copy of Spare Change News outside Shaw’s Supermarket. Usually in the face of rejection, the oft-polite hawkers say something along the lines of “You have a nice day, ma’am” or “Next time then,” but this guy just stared at me. Coldly. For an uncomfortable and uncalled for amount of time. It’s almost as if he knew I was on my way to buy $4 worth of bottled water – for my cats. Or maybe that’s just my guilt and shame talking. But there likely is an indigent man sleeping on the streets of Cambridge who, at this very moment, is telling his downtrodden brethren all about the uppity yuppie – whose cats drink rainwater collected in an artesian aquifier deep within the Earth on the island of Fiji – who couldn’t trouble herself to donate a dollar to halt homelessness.
In my defense, I’d like to note that the water had been turned off on my street. And ever since kittenhood, my girls only drink agua freshly flowing from the tap. They shun their water dish, as if it were a costly toy or insect they’d already freed from the burden of wings, legs and antennae. At various times throughout the day, Teva and Isabel perch themselves on the rim of the pedestal sink in the bathroom, smack their lips and furiously rub their furry little heads against the faucet, which is my cue to initiate a trickle. Then they lap it up – and usually splash – until they’ve had their fill. This dry day was different, however, and although they earnestly butted their noggins and licked the spout in vain, they didn’t understand why I wasn’t holding up my end of the bargain.
Teva was the easier of the two to quench. She usually takes a keen interest in whatever I’m sipping, so all I had to do was pour her an 8-ounce glass of Fiji’s finest and she went to town. Isabel proved to be more of a challenge. In a desperate bid, I drizzled the expensive water parallel to the faucet, trying to mimic the familiar drip. The phrase “pouring money down the drain” came to mind, leading me to conclude that the idiom’s creator – obviously a single woman of a certain age – must have had cats. Plural. And if there had been blogs back in the day, hers would have been called “Aloneth … amidst felines.” Eventually, I stemmed Isabel’s thirst by putting the pricey liquid in the palm of my hand, and at my urging she took many a sip.
Too many a sip, it seems, as mere moments later when she was atop the cat tree, she yakked it all up in a projectile fashion. It plopped down all three tiers as well as the nearby curtains. Isabel then left cloudy, yellowish puddles in her wake as she navigated from room to room. Because the pipes were still inconveniently empty in my apartment, I had only two quarts of the precious tears shed by island deities at my disposal to rinse away the mess. So, to recap, I bought the water to clean up … the water.
It could be argued that I have only myself to blame for her forced hydration. And subsequent digestive upheaval. And resultant mucking up of my rented abode. And, well, the scourge of homelessness. But I did rough it all afternoon without running water, wasn’t able to shower for more than 36 hours and was beginning to reek like a recycling bin full of empty beer cans in the summertime (Did I not previously mention I’d been boozing? That explains a lot.), so it’s not so much that I’m perpetuating the problem as quite possibly at risk of becoming part of it.