Friday, June 06, 2008

The end of an era

The summer that I met Joel was the summer of the Nalgenes, and while this sounds like the opening to a bad Young Adult novel, I promise that this post will be less about Joel and more about Nalgenes.

That summer at camp (2002, and you won't believe the math I had to do to get there), Nalgenes were ubiquitous. They'd been advertised as unbreakable, and the rumor was that if you broke yours, you could mail it to them and they'd mail you a new one. For free.

(That rumor later proved true, but it ended up costing almost as much to mail your Nalgene in as it did to go buy a new one, and you had to wait the 6-8 weeks for shipping.)

Needless to say, if you tell a bunch of 19- and 20-year-olds that something can't be broken, they will spend their spare time trying to break it. We would throw our Nalgenes off of cabins, run over them with cars, and kick them everywhere we went, as though they were a loose stone. If your Nalgene was new, you had to throw it into a pile of gravel and stomp on it for a bit, so that it looked like you'd had one since before they were cool.

By the end of the summer, no one had managed to break their Nalgene. Joel and I were walking to lunch one day discussing this fact, and he asked if he could have a jump on mine. When a guy who looks like Joel asks if he can jump on your Nalgene, you don't say no.

It cracked.

It didn't break, and it still held water. I just couldn't toss it into my backpack or let it lie on its side for too long, and when I drank I had to drink from right above the 'e' or water would dribble out of the cracks and down my shirt, making me look like I didn't know how to drink. I hung onto it until camp ended, and then bought this one:

This bottle has been with me through thick and thin for six years. I brought it back for one more summer of camp (that summer we made rings out of toothbrush handles and belay rope). It came with me to Thailand. It comes with me to the gym and to class, and when I forget it, I'm thirsty and angry.

However, as I'm sure you've all heard by now, Nalgenes give you cancer. And I know, the results are sketchy, and I also know that everything gives you cancer. It's just genetics are giving me cancer, and my inability to stay out of the sun is giving me cancer, and Joel insists that my one-a-day cup of coffee is giving me cancer (to the point where he tells me he's going to the kitchen, and do I want him to bring me my cancer-juice - he's such an enabler) and the thing is, I'd like to get cancer later rather than sooner.

So...alas. Farewell, faithful Nalgene. You have made water attractive and portable well past your time. Greetings and salud, generic stainless steel water bottle that surprisingly doesn't taste like a tin can. I guess you'll have to do.

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