18 January 2007
Don't Drink the Water
The aptly named Jennifer Lea Strange died after drinking over a gallon (That's nearly 4 liters to most folks) of water in a contest called "Hold your Wee for a Wii" for radio station KDND 107.9 in California. And let's put things into perspective here: The grand prize was a Nintendo Wii (whatever that is) and they are worth over 300 dollars, apparently. So miss Strange drank like a freshly dumped college co-ed, and later she died.
And here's the really shitty thing: She didn't even win. Lucy Davidson was the person who won. What's going to be going through Lucy's mind the first time she sits down to play Nintendo?
If I seem callous and unkind it's because I just find the whole thing so ridiculously stupid. First, these loud overly-perky radio station promotional stunts, then the people who are so wowed by the prospect of their "15 minutes" that they are willing to publicly debase themselves, and finally Nintendo itself. Why is everyone frothing at the mouth about a computer game? Is life really that boring? Apparently so. And beyond that - how does one physically take in so much water? Where does it all go? Surely your stomach would hurt from holding it all, and you might get the clue that what you're doing isn't too healthy? I mean what are you thinking at that point? "Damn, this might be rupturing my intestines, but I can't wait to play with my new Nintendo!".
During the water drinking contest a nurse called in to say that this was dangerous and that people could die from it. The DJs joked, "That's OK, we've had them all sign releases."...Here's a good rule of thumb: Never (repeat) NEVER sign a release that involves damage to your body when you are about to potentially damage your body:
I was once asked to sign a release when I showed up at a Temp job at the Chevron building in San Francisco, years ago. The release basically said that if anything should happen to me like the building collapsing that they wouldn't be in any way liable for medical costs (or bereavement compensation - where applicable). Now bear in mind that this was about 2 or 3 days after the Earthquake of '89. We were still experiencing aftershocks; everyone's nerves were frazzled and we were expecting everything to come tumbling down any second. I refused to sign the release. So they spent the next HOUR arguing with me that it was "routine" and that "everyone else did it". I didn't budge. Finally they fired me, I didn't get paid, and my temp agency stopped calling me for assignments. OK - perhaps the "moral" of the story would have been communicated a bit more effectively if I told you that at that moment the ceiling had collapsed, I had sustained multiple spinal injuries and sued Chevron for 90 million dollars. That's not what happened. But I still say I had a valid point. Things could have gone wrong, and in that parallel universe where they did I am sitting in a white marble villa in the Italian Alps sipping champagne whilst having my feet massaged by two male models. But I digress.
As if it weren't horrible enough that a young woman is now dead, there is the added tragedy of it being a particularly embarrassing death. She's sure to make this year's Darwin Awards, and for the rest of their lives her loved ones are going to have to repeat the story of her dying by drinking too much water for a Nintendo game - which she never won.
And lets not underestimate the paranoia of the American public, either. How many kids are going to have to endure the next year or so hearing their mothers freak out every time they drink a glass of water too quickly? There's nothing America loves more than a new medical threat, and this one is just as good as all the Trans Fats, red M&Ms, Excedrin PMs and tampons of yesteryear. Will complimentry water stop ariving at your table in restaurants for fear of the lawsuit that may ensue? I wouldn't doubt it. Unless you've signed the release form.