In my household, we go through a lot of LaCroix. The peak of the millennial seltzer trend seems to have come and gone — supplanted in part by a craze for White Claw and other alcoholic variants — but as I settled into the work-from-home routine this year, it became more important than ever to have a stash of ice-cold, natural-essenced bubbly water on hand at all times. The list of faves (Pamplemousse, Mango and Tangerine) even welcomed a new addition: Pastèque.
But the utopian dream of unlimited, free-flowing LaCroix has yet to be realized. Even as I fetch a new can from the fridge, I am calculating how long I have until it’s time to restock. And something tells me that consumption is not being optimized for the greatest value and efficiency. That “something” would be the never-ending series of cans that my girlfriend, Maddie, takes only a few sips from before abandoning to a countertop, side table or desk, where their once-refreshing contents flatten and turn lukewarm in the space of an hour.
I am haunted by these abandoned beverages, as I think many people in loving, long-term relationships are.
What goes on in the mind of the drink-leaver? Are only the first gulps of effervescence satisfying to them? Or are their bodies instantly hydrated, making the remainder fluid superfluous? Are they distracted by other tasks? I’ve even uncovered speculation that this is a bisexual trait. Fascinating.
Truly, though, I’m not sure if a libation finisher and a beverage dilettante will ever understand one another. Different priorities, different worlds. I tell myself that it’s the “waste” driving me crazy — but this is tied to the fact that I, the LaCroix addict, am the one who always buys and schleps it home from the store. Thus, it is my money and labor lost when a can is not enjoyed to the fullest extent (as it always is when I open one).
It does not strike me as unreasonable to expect Maddie to gauge her thirst before helping herself to a LaCroix, and I think I would be satisfied if she drank most of it, most of the time. However, when I walk into the kitchen and discover a lonely Pamplemousse with condensation still on it, and pick it up to feel the weight of some 10 liquid ounces, I am distraught. In a show of petty good faith, I’ll even transport the LaCroix to wherever Maddie has gone, saying she must have “forgotten” she was drinking it.
Because the two-sippers can’t grasp the agony of friends, families and partners who believe in draining off the actual serving size, we completists are left to shame and cajole and beg. When that approach predictably fails, we resort to desperate measures. Some will bitterly chug the leftovers rather than pour them down the drain — I do this maybe 30 percent of the time, and my colleague Quinn Myers does it, too, with certain idle cans of LaCroix his wife Amanda declines to deal with. Originally, he tried to get more creative: “There was a point where I was like, ‘Okay, at least I can water the plants with these, maybe they like seltzer water or something,’” he tells me. “And then two months later, our apartment was infested with fruit flies, either because the soil was constantly damp, or damp with sugary water. So now I just drink as much flat, room-temperature LaCroix as I can. It’s kind of like, metallic and medicinal-tasting.”
Such is the burden of the vigilant imbiber.
But this many years into the silent, grueling war, all I am looking for is peace — a compromise. Maybe what would solve the problem is, if not a solid commitment to seeing each LaCroix through to the final drop, a promise to at least conceal the evidence of what’s going on here. If I see an empty can in the recycling bin, I’m not going to ask where the seltzer went; I can happily assume that Maddie drank the entire thing, even if she really gave up after several good swigs and secretly dumped the rest in the sink. I’d be none the wiser! And I would not have the slow accrual of resentment that comes with performing regular sweeps to collect the aluminum sentinels of total indifference to fizzy water etiquette.
Doesn’t that sound nice?
Ha ha ha ha! It’s not going to happen. Anyway, time to hit the supermarket, again.