John Carlson: Mmm, That’s Tasty Water!

A couple cool water jugs are better for you than cans of frothy beer. Photo by Nancy Carlson.A couple cool water jugs are better for you than cans of frothy beer. Photo by Nancy Carlson.

By John Carlson—

Lately, I have been thinking about opening a tavern.

Maybe calling it the Dew Drop Inn … For Water Only, because we’d only serve water.

I would never have entertained this super-fun business notion before, based on my own research. It was like, whenever anybody asked me if I wanted some water, my immediate reaction was always, “Now why would I want some water? I hate water.”

But lately I have begun to see water’s benefits. By this, I don’t mean the fact that, when you freeze some water, it makes great ice for bourbon.

I’m thinking of other reasons.

For one thing, water is good for you, supposedly.

Also, in my water tavern one thing you will seldom hear is some mouthy jerk pounding down six waters in a row – straight up – then loudly challenging every man in the joint to try to kick his butt. True, that mouthy jerk may challenge you to use the urinal first instead, but …

Another thing you will seldom hear is some beefy state trooper ordering you to, “Blow into this thing until I say stop,” then to, “Put your hands behind your back,” and finally to, “Have a comfortable ride to jail in the back of my squad car, Mario.”

Now, before you get any wrong ideas, none of those words has ever been directed my way by a member of the local constabulary. You can tell this by the fact that never in my life have I been forced to raise bail money, then gone home to find my wife Nancy happily locked inside our house and me unhappily locked outside it.

Given such a scenario, I’d be in deep doo-doo.

On the other hand, I have been in some situations where I might easily have found myself in danger of losing my hard-won reputation as a journalist. OK, OK, being a humor writer, I don’t have much of a reputation to lose. But I know there are countless guys around here with sterling reputations that could be destroyed or at least badly damaged were they to be caught driving under the influence.

That would be the least of potential consequences, of course, compared to the threat of being held responsible for hurting some innocent party as a result of drunk driving.

By the way, I don’t mean this as a put down of local watering holes. A couple favorites of mine, The Fickle Peach and Guardian Brewing Co., are just two of the responsibly run places you’ll encounter hereabouts. Some of the best friendships I have made in my life are with caring, quality people I have met in these places. But there’s only so much a bar can do to limit its capacity for bad behavior and trouble.

It’s up to the patrons themselves to limit their own capacity for stupidity.

Of course, a person with a drinking problem might argue he is only hurting himself.

Well, this argument is true, assuming you were never loved in life, never had a best friend, never had anyone who cared about you and your well-being. But that’s almost too sad a fate to contemplate. When I recently wound up in the hospital with a condition possibly thought to have resulted from drinking, I soon heard from my beloved sister, Patty.

She had news to share with me.

Our blood types matched! She could be packed to travel to Muncie in no time! And don’t gimme any lip, Johnny, she said. If you need a kidney, you will take one of mine!

“She means it,” Nancy told me after hanging up.

“I know,” I replied.

Like Nancy, Patty is a person who gives of herself, and then gives more and more and more.

And hearing her, my heart flat out hit the floor.

This was my kid sister, after all. The adorable little two-year-old happily staring out at me from black-and-white studio shots my folks had taken of her. The little girl who, much to her delight, was elected “all-time twirler” while we other neighborhood brats jumped rope in marathon playing sessions from which she was always excluded.

We’ve unconditionally loved each other for sixty-seven years now. Her four beautiful grandchildren call her Gigi, and absolutely adore her, with good reason.

One more thing about Patty; the only liquid she drinks is water.

The very thought of her offering to donate an organ for my health left me wracked with guilt, and all brought on because I had an unreasonable fondness for stronger brews. It shamed me.

Now the happy news is that I’m not going to need my sister’s kidney after all.

Still it’s been a scare.

I can’t help but think that every overindulgence I’ve made throughout my life led me recently to the sickest spell of my life. It also caused great consternation amongst Nancy and my innocent kids, all of whom love me to pieces.

Anyway, only extremely lucky people get second chances at correcting the serious mistakes they have made in their lives. None of this means I am ever going to be a teetotaler. Knowing myself and my considerable shortfalls as a person, I just don’t think it’s a possibility in my life.

But I am going to end up drinking a lot more water.


A former longtime feature writer and columnist for The Star Press in Muncie, Indiana, John Carlson is a storyteller with an unflagging appreciation for the wonderful people of East Central Indiana and the tales of their lives, be they funny, poignant, inspirational or all three.  John’s columns appear on every Friday.