A few years ago I was taking a friend of mine to the airport for her flight back to Burundi. We were on a team together that had just finished a meeting in Myrtle Beach. Before arriving at the airport she asked a question that must have been brewing in her mind for several days (or at least several minutes while sitting next to each other in the car).
"What's the matter with your face," she asked.
There was Ron in 3rd grade who used to so eloquently say to me, "You look like a burnt piece of toe jam." Then there was Freddie in 5th grade whose favorite little zinger was, "I think I'll watch [insert preferred television show of the moment here] on your big forehead." Back then I sought consolation in the wise grade school proverb: "Boys pick on the girls they like the most."
But this time—some 15 years since I heard the last cruel references to my appearance—I was stunned. I mean, even the disgusting reference to dirt and sock debris between toes was better than someone flat-out asking me why I am an ugly cow!
I gained my composure. This time seeking consolation in knowing that her English, while far superior to my Swahili, still kept her from properly asking the question I thought she must really be pondering (which was, of course, "How do you stay so beautiful and youthful?").
"What do you mean?" I said.
"Your face," she said, now gesturing towards me in a circular motion that outlined my vulnerable visage. "What's wrong with it? Why do you have so many bumps? Do you not drink water?"
I thought: So I have some acne. It's improving! I mean, it's not as bad as it was in high school! But . . . genuine concern for acne is still no excuse for asking someone what's wrong with her face!
"Oh. No. I don't really drink much water. Never been a big fan. I guess I need to, though," I said.
"Ohhhh . . .," she said, "Yes, you need to drink more water, or you're not going to get married."
Now, my closest friends know that getting married is not enough incentive for me to stock my house with bottles of Fiji. But this lovely moment did give birth to the infamous day my girlfriends and I dubbed H2O with a more fabulous name: marriage water. A glass of agua was once a source of hydration but is now a source of nuptial bliss. Who knew?
So I chuckled today when my friend Jennifer sent me a link for bona fide marriage water from a company in the UK.
So all the single ladies, if you drink it then he's sure to put a ring on it!
*And for you curious readers: I did incorporate more water in my diet (for hydration purposes, of course). I'm still not a huge fan. And nobody has asked for my hand in marriage. But no one has ever asked what's wrong with my face ever again, either.*