July in the District is always hot. Maybe that's why bottled water is popular here. And maybe the heat really is intense enough to warp people's brains, explaining why so many visitors are thoughtless enough to toss empty water bottles into the Potomac. Drinkers of Dasani, Poland Spring, Deer Park, Safeway Select, and Kirkland Signature are all responsible for the parade of pollution marching in front of me. They should come out to the Tidal Basin to learn the result of their alternative beverage choice sometime. Years ago, I didn't notice the bottles floating in the river. Either they weren't there or I was too busy pursuing my own selfish agenda to even see them. I was just another young and arrogant intern on Capitol Hill, the exact demographic that drinks bottled water by the cases today. Back then, everyone popped the top off of a Coke to quench their thirst. Now they all consider soda too high in sugar and calories for anyone but poor West Virginians to have it. And Northern Virginians especially would hate to be mistaken for hicks. Northern Virginians have worked hard to edge from their Southern reputation as haters and hangers into a reputation of Mid-Atlantic Region sophistication. Maybe I only started to notice the water bottles when Arlington, Fairfax, and Alexandria insisted that they had nothing to do with Robert E. Lee, or maybe the water bottles only arrived after the Confederate sympathizers moved out and the Northern political science and journalism snobs moved in. Even today I still drink Coke. I recycle the cans, not wanting to join the water bottle chuggers in further ruining the Potomac. Someday when my government job salary is a couple thousand dollars higher, I might buy a few hundred bottles of water and pour their contents into the river in the hope that the Potomac will glitter like it did in the Age of Coke Drinkers.
In the Age of Coke Drinkers
September 1, 2007