I ran into my house to change my shoes before I met friends for dinner, because cool women don't dine out while wearing work-related footwear, especially if you are a kindergarten teacher as I am.
As I zipped up my 2-inch heeled booties, I beelined for the refrigerator to see what I would have eaten if I had to eat at home, you know, out of curiosity.
Hummus. Lemon pudding.
As an act of necessity, I pulled out my phone and added, "Food shopping" to my list of things to do this weekend.
There wasn't a lot of lemon pudding in that small bowl, maybe a half a cup. Why did I even save it? I ate the pudding and placed the bowl in the sink.
What a great way to start my Friday evening. Lemon pudding.
I eyed the hummus. There wasn't a lot in that bowl, why did I save such small amounts?
I grabbed a few crackers and dipped them into the bean dip. Delicious. I ate a few more. What a fabulous snack. I polished it off the hummus then ate a few more crackers to wash it down.
I pulled out a hard boiled egg and slathered it with spicy mayonnaise. It wasn't much food, one egg, but it was just what I wanted, protein with a little flavor.
Protein. I was in the mood for protein. I grabbed a handful of cashews and ate them slowly before I grabbed a second handful.
Some people only eat when they're sitting at a set table, not me. I stand at the counter for most meals. But this wasn't a meal, it was just a quick taste before I headed out.
An apple would be a healthy snack. I ate it while I wandered around the house thinking about things I would do over the weekend.I returned to the kitchen for a glass of water and then remembered I had some frozen fudge that would round out my pre-dinner snack. One frozen peanut butter fudge square. It was a perfect snack. Smooth. Cold. Sweet. I finished it off with a glass of water then reached for another fudge square and then one more.
When driving to New Paltz to meet my friends, I realized I wasn't hungry. It was strange to have no appetite at all when I'd eaten lunch hours ago.
Why wasn't I hungry?
Oh, right. The snack. That's right. I ate that pudding. Oh, and the hummus.
My after work snack reminded me of that children’s book, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." In that book the caterpillar eats everything in sight then turns into a butterfly. Unfortunately my eating rampage had nothing to do with transformation; I ate because it was there. How could I defend my grazing habit?
I would not be eating at the restaurant tonight.
Hot lemon water is my go-to drink when dining out. My friends arrived at the restaurant before I did and had my special drink waiting for me. I let them know that I already ate.
“You already ate?” Julie asked “when you were meeting us for dinner?”
I nodded and sipped my hot lemon water as my friends ate bowls of spicy Thai food that looked a lot better than old dip and leftover pudding.
The lemon water had a strange taste, but I didn't think much about it. We've come to trust water, haven't we? I'm a peasant: tap water is my drink of choice; I don't care to drink water out of plastic bottles.
I watched my friends eating and swore off snacking for the rest of my life.
On Monday morning when my weekend already seemed like a dim memory, my alarm sounded and the radio blared the news: New Paltz’s water supply was tainted with an unknown substance that made the water taste bad.
I sat up in bed and shouted at the radio, “What?” so the announcer would know to repeat what he just said.
They couldn’t figure out where the contamination came from or what it was. I wasn’t surprised that others noted the bad taste, but it never occurred to me that the bad taste might be something concerning.
I drank three glasses of that hot water with lemon.
I drove all the way to New Paltz to drink water and now we find that it was tainted?”
Did I have any symptoms of poisoning? Not yet. Nothing.
Governor Cuomo closed the state university in New Paltz and sent the students home, which is hopefully far enough away where they might drink fresh water, but not too far away that they might suffer great expense in the escape.
Wait. Really. Was I poisoned in drinking that water?
A few days later the source of pollution was noted: petroleum leaked into one of the town’s reservoirs.
I Googled “Petroleum poisoning.” There was a lot of information about washing gasoline off your skin, but I couldn’t find anything about drinking three cups of warmed petroleum with lemon.
Luckily the only side effect I felt was the gagging feeling from thinking about drinking bad water at a restaurant.
It's strange timing, my new distrust of water, because I just bought a reverse osmosis water filtration system for my house. Sure, the water tastes dead, but dead water is better than petroleum water, amiright?
If you see me arrive at a restaurant, hungry and carrying a water bottle with my home-filtered water, you'll know why.