An angry woman drinks water
Health

The Brands Won’t Rest Until They Have Killed Water

Time for your weekly edition of the, uh No Longer Deadspin Funbag. Today, we're talking about farts, grocery shopping, injera, Capital One cafes, Port Authority, and more.
December 10, 2019, 8:12pm

Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Your letters:

Ryan:

What if water tasted like shit?

Ryan, I promise you that many of your fellow Americans believe it DOES tastes like shit. Right now. In this dimension. I’m not talking about contaminated water, like from the ongoing crisis in Michigan and the burgeoning crisis in California. I’m talking about clean, potable water, which some people truly fucking hate. I drink way too much seltzer these days, to the point where flat water tastes like poison to me. My father-in-law only drinks Diet Coke. I have friends who have to remind their own parents to drink water so that their folks don’t die of fucking typhoid. Water haters are real, and they are legion.

I’m overstating my aversion to plain water, given that I drink it by the gallon on a daily basis to supplement my La Croix habit. But I have had bad water. I’ve always hated Evian, for instance. The taste of water is often dependent on its temperature, its vessel, its cleanness, and the minerals within it. The minerals in Evian, to my taste, are apparently all derived from sour fish droppings. That’s because I am a man with a refined palate. But you’ll find people who, as a rule, hate drinking ANY water at all. Thus, they derive the majority of their water intake from industrialized fluids: soda, beer, Gatorade, baby blood, and such and such. They are the ideal customer base for Big Soda and the like. I guarantee you that the brand manager for Mountain Dew Code Red stood up at an internal product launch meeting and proudly declared, "Gentlemen, THIS is a water killer."

I know soda sales are down in 2019 and water sales are up, but the category that encompasses "water" includes seltzer and "flavored water drinks." Those are close enough to water to count for manufacturers. They don’t even include hard seltzer sales, which are already skyrocketing. If you just go drink some water from a stream or from a water fountain, you are not contributing to the economy in the way that CEOs would like you to. They wanna cultivate more water haters who rely on getting vital hydration exclusively through Vard Malt AcaiAde.

If water tasted terrible to everyone on Earth, some of us would adjust to it, just as people in Denver adjust to living in a town that smells like manure all the time. But the rest of us would end up guzzling Monster Energy Drinks and other mass-marketed water killers. That’s the case for millions of people already. Imagination water, only with diabetes! You talk about living the dream!

Lucas:

Who are these superfans of NFL teams who dress up as vikings, skeletons, and luchadors, and are ostensibly capable of yelling and punching air for hours at a time? When they were kids did they dream of growing up and dedicating their entire lives to following a football team?

Probably. I know I dreamed of that. Anyway superfans have a lot of justified reasons for dressing up at games. First of all, they’re drunk. Drunkenness is paramount. Secondly, they all know that if you dress up, TV cameras will find you. I could act like this is some sign that we’re living in a broadcast dystopia, but that would be too melodramatic. Being on TV is fun. Seeing yourself on TV after the fact is even MORE fun. I know. I’ve been on TV. I have called my kids over to the fucking television and cried out to them, "Look, it’s dad!" Two seconds later, they’re back to staring at other screens. Whatever. It was worth showing them that I am a world famous sports pundit who appeared on an NFL Network Top 10 filler special for a half-minute blip. It’s no sin to get a kick out of your 15 minutes.

Thirdly, dressing up gets you attention AT the stadium, and in the tailgate lot. Same reason you dress up for Halloween, or for some overpriced New Year’s Eve shitshow at your local watering hole, where they give you a wristband and then lock you inside for five hours. Ladies notice. Other people take pictures. Your friends say "Nice outfit!" even when they don’t mean it. It’s a fun time.

In fact, the act of dressing up is what transforms the game into a special occasion for you. Yes, you could trudge over to your car in plain clothes and then watch from the stands like a regular schmuck, as I do every time I go to a Wizards game. Or you can make it an EVENT. You can get up at five in the morning, drink a sixer of tall boys, begin spit-smoking a whole goat in a barbecue trailer hitched to your Blazer, and then spend two hours dolling yourself up in KISS makeup and spiked shoulder pads before getting your football on. That makes it a day. That’s the fun of it. I can’t shit on people for doing all that. Okay, I have shit on people for doing that. But the joke’s on me. I’m like the frowning asshole at a wedding who won’t dance. It’s a lot more rewarding to go balls out and dress like you’re a Fury Road extra before you go watch A&M lose by three touchdowns.

I live in DC, where the Skins play. The Skins are an eternal fucking disgrace that has lost an entire generation of local fans thanks to their incompetence, racism, and general obliviousness. Their stadium is also a complete piece of shit. Fewer and fewer fans are showing up for home games. That goes for a friend of mine who finally gave up his tickets this past offseason. But another friend of mine kept his because he still enjoyed the ritual of the thing. He likes going and seeing his friends and chilling in the parking lot and doing all the fun shit that revolves around the game but isn’t necessarily dependent on its outcome to be enjoyable. That’s the only thing keeping people going to Skins games these days. To a LOT of games, all across the board.

So by all means, dress up like Santa Claus for a local Calgary Flames tilt. You’ll have more fun than if you had just stayed at home like a pud.

Susanne:

Does it become harder to suppress farts as one gets older or is it just that you stop giving a fuck about not farting in front of people after a certain age?

Fortunately for you, it’s both. One fart philosophy feeds into the other. I am 43. Farts come out of me like they’re breaking out of prison. This is especially true in the morning, when my asshole becomes its own alarm clock. This is not ALARMINGLY involuntary flatulence here. I’m not riddled with polyps. I just fart more than I used to and lack both the physical strength and the self-consciousness to hold it all back. I got better shit to do with my time. So I let it out and move on.

This indifference sometimes bleeds over into my public comings and goings. Like, I’ll stroll through my neighborhood and fart. May as well. We were walking the dog once and I farted out loud and my wife was like, "Drew." I had gone too far in my lasseiz faire approach. I have three kids and farting around them is funny! We play the fart game just like Eddie Murphy did. I pull dad farts all the time in the house, which means I’m more apt now to unleash them upon the general population. Sometimes I feel bad about it, like if I’m at a Christmas party. Other times, a fart gets the best of me at the grocery store and what am I gonna do about it? I can’t unfart. I just keep shopping. I don’t give a shit. Get older and you get pickier about who and what to give a shit about. Unless you’re Trump, farting in public is not terribly high on the list of prioritized concerns.

Ryan:

If forced to run a mile (like tell him Paula Abdul is at the finish line or some shit), would Trump be able to finish? If so, what would his time be? Personally, I think he'd keel over somewhere around halfway through.

I think he’d be able to finish the mile. He would not run the whole way. His knees don’t bend. He’d spend the bulk of that mile on the phone with Carl Icahn talking about some newscaster he hates but would still like to fuck. But he’d finish. First of all, he’d take performance-enhancing Dexatrim before the race even started. Secondly, Trump has already proven capable of wearing down 350 million of his fellow Americans and then CONTINUING to do so. He never fucking stops. He never WORKS, mind you, but he never stops popping out of helicopters to tell you that actually, Nancy Pelosi was born in Albania, so she shouldn’t even legally be allowed to have her job.

This takes genuine energy. Granted, Trump derives most of his energy from consuming day-old Burger King chicken fries, but it’s energy all the same. He can talk on the phone for HOURS at a time. I can’t be on the phone for more than five minutes without wanting to die. On the campaign trail, he hopped on his plane—also tiring, even if it’s a private plane!—and attended a dozen rallies a day. Again, I couldn’t do this. And even Fox News executives don’t have the stamina to watch as much Fox News as that man does. I bet they advise AGAINST you ever doing it! The man has physical energy. Again, I don’t know how. He should be fucking dead. But he isn’t.

So yeah, if you tell him that Joan Evans would be VERY impressed if he could run/golf-walk to the Washington Monument from his beanbag chair in the White House, he’d get right to it. Never underestimate the bipedal locomotive powers of bored old people.

Russell:

On my recent trip to the grocery store, I was the third person in line. The first person was with the cashier checking out, the second person had nothing on the conveyor belt, and then me. I had two items on the conveyor at the end. Out of nowhere a 4th person comes up and pushes my items (with the rubber stopper) up so he can make room for his items. Who's the asshole here? Me, for not leaving room for the new items (but then my items would be in front of the 2nd person) or him for not waiting 30 seconds for everyone to move up?

I think the whole dynamic is pretty normal. (Dr. Evil voice) Quite standard, really. I’ve moved up people’s shit on the belt to make way for my crap, especially my food is in a basket and weighing me down. I don’t move their shit rudely. I gently rearrange for space and say "sorry" as I’m doing it. I’ve had people do likewise to my goods. When they do, I go, "It’s all right" and that’s the end of it. If someone is actively SHOVING your goods to the front of the belt and upsetting your careful setup (put the heavy items on the belt first!), then you’re free to shoot them dead. Otherwise, there’s usually a way for everyone to coexist on the belt in relative harmony. No one has to be the asshole.

By the way, one other fun thing that happens is when the cashier unwittingly includes some of my food in the order ahead of me. That’s when I drop the civility routine and I’m like WAIT EXCUSE ME THOSE ARE *MY* ENGLISH MUFFINS ACTUALLY. I have to correct the oversight 0.21 seconds after it has occurred. Otherwise, people will surely die.

HALFTIME!

Alex:

My wife and I were informally talking about baby names. My last name is Katz, so naturally I tried to find names to play off of it. My father always used to tell me they were going to name me Robert, so that in the event I played sports growing up, they could cheer for me, "Let's go BobKatz!" My mother didn't bite back then and neither did my wife now. But then I came up with a name good for boy or girl: Kit Katz. Great name, or the greatest name?

Okay, but you’re not the one who’s gonna have to live with that name, know what I mean? This is why my wife and I didn’t call our kids Mary, Harry, and Larry Magary. The novelty wears off real quick. This could be why your folks did NOT call you Bob. You would have been forever linked to the Charlotte Bobcats. Before being reborn as the Hornets, the Bobcats were given their nickname in tribute to then-owner Robert Johnson. Know who else thought that was cool besides Bob Johnson? Fucking no one. You don’t want Kit Katz to suffer the same fate, especially if her middle name is Karen or something. It’s a name, not a party trick. You gotta think about what it would be like to have that name. Some notable people, like North West, can pull goofy names off. Most can’t.

Todd:

Am I wrong in believing there is no better bite of food in a restaurant setting than the injera at the bottom after it has soaked up all the flavors and goodness of the food on top?

I can’t beat that. Injera bread is the absolute shit. My neighbors are Eritrean and one time they brought us a full Eritrean dinner, injera included, and I nearly died of gratitude. When I crave that particular food, I crave it HARD. Same with soup dumplings. The need comes on strong. I turn into the fucking Terminator, walking through walls to zero in on the closet platter of beef tsebhi. Decades ago, my friend took me to an Ethiopian restaurant called Caffe Adulis in New Haven that had a dish called shrimp barka, with coconut and dates in it. When the injera soaked all that shit up, it was fucking perfect. That restaurant closed over ten years ago. Bereft, I tried making the barka on my own, at home. No injera. Not the same.

By the way, injera is both delicious and insidious. You can eat 50 pounds of it in one sitting because it’s so light and fluffy. And then it gets into your tummy and expands. And expands. And expands some more, until it comes gushing out of your belly button. Still worth it.

Let’s take this moment to go on a little tour of other perfect restaurant bites:

  • First slice of pizza
  • Boiling hot soup dumpling
  • First bite of a Popeye’s thigh
  • Spooning out the end of a goodass shake
  • First little bundle of piping hot fries dragged in ketchup
  • Sopping up the last bits of pasta sauce with bread from the bread basket
  • Rice soaked up in tikki masala sauce, then heaped onto some naan. Starchception.
  • The middle bite of a bacon cheeseburger, where it has the highest concentrations of bacon and cheese
  • First bite of nigiri sushi on a sushi platter. I order mostly rolls to save money, but I always get a couple of nigiri pieces as a treat. A flawless treat.
  • Fattiest part of the steak
  • Big wad of nice ramen noodles
  • Last of the rice at a Vietnamese restaurant, soaked in the fish sauce
  • First bite of lobster bisque

I could go on and on but I’m already starving. I’m gonna go eat a piece of Popeye’s fried chicken topped in bacon and rolled in injera. And then dipped in nuoc cham. FUSION.

Will:

How do you think Trump will handle leaving office if it's to a Democrat in either 2021 or 2025? Will he show up for inauguration, or will he hold an alt-denauguration at his hotel? Will he give the Russians the White House computer passwords? If it's President Warren or Buttgieg, will he leave bottles of hard liquor and Hobby Lobby framed pictures of Trump's smirking mug?

I’m on record as saying he’ll go out with a whimper, and I’ll stick to that. I know the big fear among liberals is Trump refusing to leave office and orchestrating some kind of military junta to keep him entrenched in place, essentially ending the United States of America as they were originally conceived. But that would require him to, you know, do shit. And not the fun shit he usually enjoys, like standing in front of mass graves and giving a big thumbs up, or walking somewhat long distances to hit on C-list actresses from 1989.

It would also require the military to cooperate and, despite the fact that some of our troops are enjoying themselves some war crimes these days, there’s plenty of evidence suggesting that the bulk of our armed forces are at the brink of total disillusionment with their superiors, if not outright contempt. So even though my faith in how things work is at zero on the Kelvin scale right now, I also know that most people fucking hate the President and won’t extend a helping hand to him if they don’t need to.

Thus, if Trump loses to Joe Biden less than a year from now, I think he’ll just leave. He may not even stick around the White House for the transition. He’ll just fuck off back to Florida and continue being an online dickhead. I’m sure he’ll do some petty shit to make everyone miserable—and he’ll keep doing it until he finally just dies—but Trump is the kind of coward who’s easier to shut up than he makes it out to be.

Jordan:

Are Capital One Cafes the most expensive bad idea a corporation has had in the last 20 years? Exclude all bad ideas that are actually crimes.

Those stupid cafés aren’t even Capital One’s worst idea. They also pay Jennifer Garner a surely handsome amount to do her worst acting in commercials, with her barging into fucking hospice centers to pitch shitty credit cards to everyone. "Oh my God did I mention you get cash back on EVERY purchase? [trips over a wire and accidentally turns off your grandpa’s life support]"

As for the cafés, let’s go look at one. They’re just existing branches that were due to be remodeled anyway. Capital One added a couple of airport lounge tables and sectionals to the space, plus a barista. That’s really about it. So if brand managers at Capital One end up shocked to discover that millennials, in fact, do NOT wanna hang out over coffee at some fucking glorified ATM kiosk, they can just fire the baristas (or, more accurately, just stop bringing them in as freelancers), make the coffee bar another counter for filling out deposit slips, and then move on as if nothing happened. As stupid as companies like Capital One can be, when it comes to cost, they almost always plan for both contingencies and efficiencies. Terminating their contract with a local pumpkin spice syrup vendor isn’t exactly a crisis for them.

Also, you’re assuming that Capital One started these cafés for customers and NOT for the people working at their branch offices. The only person that hates being at a bank more than you is the guy at that bank whose job is to tell you that your loan application has been turned down. I bet Capital One has reams of data proving that the mood level of their working stiffs would improve by 3.4% if they got a cursory discount at a new juice bar opening three cubicles over. Also, a bank café is the kind of idea these guys can present to shareholders as a way of buffing up their respective track records and even enticing further investment. Half the products you see advertised on TV aren’t really meant for YOU, even if you’re in the target audience. They’re part of a broader awareness outreach whose strategic endgame is precisely as muddled as you suspect it might be.

That doesn’t make them "bad," in a business sense. Just normal. There are worse failed initiatives from corporate America. Hilariously ambitious ones. Like Qwikster. Remember when Netflix wanted to become Qwikster? THAT was a bad idea. Or what about the Chevy SSR? Remember the SSR?

That rich man’s El Camino cost $50,000!!! Holy underwear! Nothing Capital One could attempt would be as insanely wasteful and expensive as some of the worst shit ever conceived and then manufactured by the American car industry.

Rob:

Say you put Eli Manning in a random location within Port Authority Bus Terminal. All he has to do is leave the premises without assistance, and $10 million is donated to the charity of his choice. He has his wallet and plenty of money, but no phone. He was blindfolded on the way over as well. Do you think he would succeed?

Of course he would. He’s a grown man. He’s not a fucking baby. I know that Port Authority is a maze of twisty little urine puddles, but even Eli Manning is wily enough to note the EXIT signs and then follow the arrows.

As much as anyone, I have propagated the idea that Manning is a colossal idiot. This is because I heard it secondhand from people at Ole Miss, but also because he LOOKS like a mouthbreathing goober. He also happens to be the second highest paid player in the history of football. That didn’t happen by accident. Not even by birthright. Some parts of that little brain do, indeed, work. Besides, have you seen everyone else in Port Authority? You’re not exactly at MENSA headquarters. It’s a public bus station (loosely) designed to facilitate travel for everyone, including our dumbest citizens. If they can all sort out how that station works, so can Eli.

Brian:

I'm mostly fucking with my wife right now but I just said your neck is part of your head and I decided to stick with it and it's getting her so good. Anyway, is it?

No. In fact, my daughter’s school had Career Day last week and I was due to give a presentation on my "job" to two classes. As part of that presentation, I asked the kids your question. They all immediately dismissed the idea that your neck is part of your head. I agreed with them but I put one final spin on it.

"Ah, but what if someone cuts off you head at the BASE of your neck? Do you say you got your head cut off, or your head and neck?" I asked.

"I would say I was decapitated," one boy chimed in.

"Okay, but still: The head is the main attraction if not all of it, yeah?"

They grumbled in tacit agreement. Career Day went super.

Email of the week!

Brian:

I still get together with my roommates from good old state U from time to time and also communicate with a few other friends from back in the day. As we wax nostalgic about the goods times spent at school the topic of heading down to old Alma Mater for a weekend always comes up. We are all pushing 40 and most of us are married with kids. We have discussed going through the areas where the apartments and houses are to try and find a keg party. You know, just rolling up tossing on some Chronic 2001 and getting everyone to play a game of flippy-cup. Are we too old to just crash a random college house party (not a frat, those guys will definitely call the cops)? And if so, what is the right cut off age for a random guy to show up at a house party?

You’re too old for that. You can pull that kind of shit for exactly as long as people you personally went to college with are still enrolled there. Friends a class below you, etc. Once they’re gone, you’re a fucking boomer on campus. Go to a keg party and you get demoted down another notch to potential diddler.

This article originally appeared on VICE US.