10 August 2018
A girl stomped out of Pret a Manger, obviously annoyed, talking into her cell phone. “Doesn’t anybody have any goddamn Vitamin Water? Three stores and I can’t find one lousy bottle. I don’t even care what flavor. I just need some hydration. I’ve been walking around this city all day. My Skechers are worn out and I’m tired as a pony at a kids’ party. (Now there’s an analogy I didn’t expect.)
And out she walked onto Broadway and 45th on a mild Friday night in June, as the theaters let out, to be engulfed by a flash flood of humanity that pushed her into me, as we were caught in a pedestrian flow toward Times Square…everyone trying to find the next good time on their night out in New York. With a number of desperate “Excuse mes” and scowls, she did maneuver to the storefront side of the surge, looking for the next store that might offer the hope of Vitamin Water.
She slipped into a pizza parlor that had a refrigerated drink case. No Vitamin Water. “What’s going on with no Vitamin Water? ” One of the pizza crew said they only carry Pepsi and Vitamin Water’s not made by Pepsi. We can provide you with other vitamin-infused beverages, he said loftily, seeing her irritation. But she was having none of it. She wasn’t going to be snookered into a substitute. It was now the quest for the holy grail, well beyond reason. It was only water, but now the search for Vitamin Water had morphed into obsession. She had the cockeyed resolve of a Crusader, wandering with great personal discomfort in the holy land, knowing her cause was just.
Thirst was no problem. Weariness would be no impediment. Walking, that rubbed her feet into blisters at the Metropolitan Museum earlier, didn’t matter. Her banner was Vitamin Water and she’d find it or die trying. A block below 42nd she found a QuikMart. No Vitamin Water…but other brands…just the same…the manager said. “Like hell”, she said on the way out. The crowd had thinned. She turned on 41st Street. There was a halal food cart on the corner. “You got Vitamin Water? Oh, yes, miss and handed her a bottle of Diet Coke. “You must be kidding…you imbecile”, the latter said under her breath.
At Eighth Avenue, great hope…the bus terminal. In its vastness there must be Vitamin Water. Sure enough in a small refrigerator, she spotted a bottle of Kiwi Strawberry Vitamin Water. “Not my favorite flavor, but, hey, victory at last”. She found a bench, uncapped and drank deeply and closed her eyes for a brief nap…a nap of satisfaction. She awoke, however, bottle in hand, but with her wallet and cell phone missing.
Sometimes obsession comes at a high price.