Monday, April 04, 2011

The Water Aficionado

My latest issue of H2O Aficionado

To the uninitiated, a glass of water is a glass of water. To those of us who have, over the years, refined our palates, a glass of water is a microcosm unto itself; an ever-spinning wheel of sensory triggers. There are hundreds of variables that can be pulled this way and that to change the character of a glass of water.

First and foremost is the water's source. Is it the flat, cold, scratchy-throated, square-footed stance of glacial melt? Or perhaps it displays the spicy, permeable mystery of a tapped aquifer. Mountain meltwater has its own certain birdy taste to it, imparted by the underside of passing eagles' pinions. Clearly (ha!) there is a lot more going on than meets the Philistine tongue.

What I would like to share with you Philistines today is just a small piece of my hobby, and a good place for the budding water aficionado to start: my own faucets at home. Now, I don't mean that you should start with MY faucets. Ha ha no. That would get you arrested. You will have to start with your own.

A moron looks at a faucet and thinks "that is a faucet. It is where I wash the mayonnaise off my hands," and then stands there like a moron, staring at it for too long. The connoisseur looks at a faucet and immediately begins asking himself questions. "What's the gauge of the feeder pipe, I wonder? How often and at what gallons-per-minute is this one operated? Stainless steel or copper? Tin content of the solder? Was a propane or butane torch used to sweat the joints? Whose house is this?" and so on.

Join me. Don your spats and monocle and let us begin with...

The Little Bathroom

Here's a feisty little lass! The little bathrooms are generally home to some of the smaller plumbing fixtures. Without the traffic and large budgets of the big bathrooms, they are forced to push the envelope a bit in order to stand out. The single control knob began with some dismaying resistance, but soon gave way to a smooth pull. I make a habit to fill my glass within the first two seconds after initial splashdown in order to capture the taste of the pipe. I held the glass up to the light and checked for sediment. Very little, and what was there was almost certainly of the mineral variety; chalky with hints of scale.

And indeed, the flavor did not disappoint! You gotta hand it to these small operations; they definitely lend their glasses of water a certain kick. This one was a sass-mouthed, top-heavy blend with a high redline and course midtones. Definitely vintage 70s copper piping at work here; I could detect notes of pennies and an almost cumulonimbus hint of mildew. As it is supplied by water from Lake Michigan, the finish rode home on a wide highway of sunfish pee.

Overall, a satisfying if tiring glass, but good in a pinch.

The Kitchen

Next, we come to The Kitchen, where the defining accents are a long spigot arm with a joystick-type flow control, all done over in chrome. And sure enough, the pleasantly smooth action of the chrome joystick and the oxygenating grate on the spigot produced a nearly instant splashdown rich in atmosphere. Virtually no sediment would seem to indicate frequent use. The initial swallow was a definite kick to the larynx--cold and harsh with overtones of apology and lemon Dawn. The abrasive backing provided by the cleaning pads lent it pleasant, if a little ostentatious, midtones. A short aging period in the feeder pipe means a raw, almost primal finish, and here I was not disappointed, although I feel it could have used a little more tin in the solder. Definitely a gap in the histogram there.

Overall, a good glass for everyday drinking, but the trip over the garbage disposal to get to it could be offputting to some.

The Big Bathroom

I'm not going to lie. The Big Bathroom, despite having a nearly identical fixture to The Small Bathroom, was a total asshole. The pull on the handle was gritty and haughty, and the overbearing splashdown was a full three seconds in coming. A word of advice: if you're going to make me wait that long for a fill, I expect Siberian-grade distillate with a cocktail umbrella in it. Sadly, some shoddy sweating and what I can only describe as "cardboard" pipes lent this glass a distinct "fat guy in Sears who keeps knocking stuff off shelves and trying to hide in clothing displays" initial swallow. Distinct and pointy lines of carp pee and muddy notes of beard clippings further dragged down a glass of water already just barely fit for brushing one's teeth. And only THEN if the drinker has adequately minty toothpaste.

Overall a good glass for putting out small fires and accidentally spilling on your crotch, but not much else. If it were a person, it would steal your car and be mad at you for not keeping the tank topped off.

The Basement Washroom

And for the diamond-in-the-rough of our group, we come to the oft-overlooked basement washroom faucet. Seeing high-volume flow in nearby plumbing, but nearly none in its own feeder pipe lent this delightfully haphazard and hunchbacked basement dweller a brightly polished copper-aged body. This was augmented with very striated lines of PVC and the open-mouthed spigot with garden hose threading impregnated the midtones with unabashedly working-class zeal. The finish was a giggling blonde with hints of dryer lint and Tidy Cat. It was so cold that the fish pee was almost lost, showing up only as a faint ghost in the aftertaste. A surprisingly smooth glass of water when you consider the robust, square-edged bouquet normally defining these fixtures.

Overall, a wonderful glass to share with the boys on game night, although it may be a little strong to bring out in mixed company.

So you see, dear readers, that "getting a glass of water" can be a journey in its own right. Now, I usually drink from a tapered cylinder style glass made by the geniuses at the Corning corporation, but feel free to experiment with your own vessels. Or grab life by the horns and go feral and glassless!

With the summer months nearly upon us, the elitist palate can amuse itself until autumn with the rainbow of garden hose drinking options opening up. I look forward to that every spring thaw!


FooDaddy's FooDaddy said...

I liked "A Look At Pipe Scuzz".

FooDaddy's FooDaddy said...

Actually, I rather immoderately admired the whole thing.

FooDaddy's FooDaddy said...

I didn't know your spats and monocle were named Don..