I’ve survived without natural gas for heat and cooking. I’ve lived without electricity. But until last Saturday, I’d never had to do without water.
Our temporary desert conditions came when crews were replacing the water main on Harvard Street. A flyer on Friday gave us enough warning to fill buckets and bowls. It also gave my wife added incentive to sleep over at an apartment with running water. I thought of clearing out myself and getting cleaned up at my office. But the water there is brown and takes 20 minutes to get hot.
In my despair over the drought, I didn’t realize we were lucky to be notified the day before. Some of our neighbors didn’t find out until a half-hour before shutoff. Our water was supposed to be off from 8 a.m. to noon, so I slept late, to avoid waking up in Sudan-like conditions. When I arose, I microwaved a bowl of water for washing up. I felt like a cowboy splashing water on my face from a basin. No wonder those guys smelled like horses.
My inability to immerse caused me to sink into self-pity. Someone tried to lift me out of it by reminding me that some Africans have to walk miles to fetch water. Now I knew how those desert dwellers felt, with no drinking water available and the dog’s dish looking more and more tempting. Besides dehydration, I had another dilemma in having to face the public at a birthday party in Montgomery, Ill.
When it comes to mixing in polite society, I have an old school approach to hygiene. I believe in bathing, while young guys will slap on cologne and hair gel. I hoped to get cleaned up before I left but the pipes were still parched. So, I put on some cologne. Hair gel was not necessary.
Many of my neighbors also cleared out during the drought. Some hit the golf course to frolic on watered fairways, while others visited their favorite relatives with running water.
In Montgomery, I took full advantage of the abundant water supply, before returning to Forest Park to attend a block party on the “Island.” Sometimes we think of these “islanders” as being more primitive than the rest of us. But they were so advanced they served me water that had already been fermented with barley and hops.
When I got home, the water was finally flowing again. We could empty the sink of dishes and take a load off the laundry table. But there is more suffering ahead. As the water project moves east, the rolling drought will cause more Forest Parkers to have their aqua interrupted.
The day will come, though, when the new main will start flowing with its increased capacity. I’d like to celebrate that moment with my fellow Forest Parkers. In fact, drinks are on me!