This world of ours is so full of rules, isn’t it? It’s asinine how many rules there are! Don’t ask a woman her age. Don’t wear white after Arbor Day, or something like that. Don’t squeeze the Charmin. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I don’t even know what a gift horse is! Do some people get a horse for Christmas or something? What if it has bad teeth? Who the hell is going to help the poor gift horse with its dental problems if no one can look at its mouth? Ridiculous!
Anyways, here’s another rule: don’t drink the tap water in Korea. There’s some debate as to whether or not this is a necessary rule or something people just avoid doing out of habit. Some time ago Korea was horribly polluted and had bad piping, so drinking the tap water was out of the question. I’ve heard that it’s okay now, although people prefer to play things safe by boiling the water before drinking it. It’s kind of like this – imagine tomorrow you were told you didn’t have to cook meat anymore, you could just eat it. You would still probably cook it, right? I personally wouldn’t eat a packet of raw ground chuck even if was completely safe. That’s disgusting!
When I first moved to Korea, I didn’t have a water boiler, nor did I have any plastic bottles. I bought some bottled water from the GS 25, and, after I drank it, I kept the bottle. Then I boiled water, poured it into the coffee pot (because that has a spout), and poured it into the water bottle. The problem, though, was that the water bottle melted right away, twisting and contorting into a bizarre shape. I put it in the fridge anyways, but when I drank it, the water tasted terrible. I could taste the plastic in the water, the same way I can taste the whisky when I order a Jack and Coke. This seemed unhealthy. Plus, and more importantly, it didn’t taste good. In the end, I stuck to buying bottled water at the GS 25 whenever I was thirsty.
There was a water boiler in the new apartment I moved into at the end of summer, and I was excited. I bought some plastic bottles and started boiling water. However, I had the same problem as before. Every time I poured the water into the bottle, the plastic would melt. I was confounded. I decided to ask Hipster Trish about what I was doing wrong.
“Hey,” I said on Facebook chat, “you have a water boiler, right? I have a question. How do keep the bottles from melting when you pour the water in?”
Hipster Trish responded with – “Is that a serious question?”
What the hell? Of course it was. “Oh,” she said, “I thought you were joking. Um, I let the water cool down before I pour it in the plastic bottle.”
I read this and nodded. She always has the best advice. “How long should I let it cool down for?”
“Until, um, it’s not hot,” she said. “Maybe a couple hours. Bill, are you really serious?”
“Yeah. I keep melting these bottles. And the water tastes funny.”
If Hipster Trish was in the room with me, her voice would’ve been low and firm. “That’s really not good for you. You could get plastic poisoning, you know? The plastic could damage your brain. It does that. If you go on drinking melted plastic, you could cause real damage to your brain cells.”
“I’ll make sure I let the water cool for at least six hours,” I said. It never dawned on me that this situation was so urgent. Plastic poisoning? Why didn’t I think of that? I’ve worked with people who had eaten paint chips. Eating paint chips isn’t that much different from drinking plastic. I tried to think some deep thoughts, to see if my mind had already deteriorated. I had a twenty minute debate in my head over theology and decided I was fine, but then I wondered if a person could tell if he or she has brain damage. Could I accurately assess if I was getting dumber? Maybe my theology debate was simplistic and I had no idea.
Then again, if I had brain damage, I might be happier. I wondered if I could find a good balance between my normal mind and a calmer, duller one. I could drink just enough plastic to give me the right amount of brain damage. No, that was a bad idea. As a great philosopher once said, “Brain damage on the mic don’t manage nothing, but making the sucker in you equal. Don’t be another sequel.”
So I started letting the water cool and stopped drinking plastic, until recently, when I started making weight gainer shakes. I figured the powder would dissolve better if the water was hot, which led me to pour hot water into the plastic cup again to make my shakes. Mind you, the cup isn’t being physically altered. To the naked eye, it appears to retain its shape perfectly. I feel drinking the shake is safe. The cup looks fine and feels sturdy, and I’m not pouring boiling water into it to begin with. Still, I’m a bit paranoid about the whole brain damage thing. I think I’ll be okay; we’ll have to wait and see.
Really, all things considered, it might be safer for me to just start drinking the tap water.