Columns, Opinion

BERICK: What your water says about you

100 or maybe 200 years from now, the social scientists on the cutting edge will be excavating Facebook photographs with the most careful of techniques. It will take special technology to navigate the ancient online territories, but they will find in the background of a photograph, what looks like a convenience store. The aisles will look quaint, the products antique. Someone with careful eyes will find a logo; City Convenience. I think this every time I walk in to a City or Campus Convenience store, both owned by local parent company 660 Corporation.

The stores, which premiered, according to their website, in 1986, feature routine college life as accurately and as descriptively as any Egyptian hieroglyphs. Height and positioning in an Egyptian painting reveals everything about the importance of its subjects. With no feel for perspective, artists instead made men and monarchs the largest figures in any painting to show they were literally a bigger deal. The effect was to make them look like they were always in the front of a painting. CampCo &-&- as it is affectionately called by its college patrons &-&- got the message. The first things you see as you walk into a CampCo are magazines and drinks. This allotment will tell future investigators what we already know; College students are a thirsty bunch. The drinks displayed in columns and rows are far more complicated than merely mixers and milk. They span from the familiar soda pops of yesteryear to new breeds of energy drinks, accompanying seven brands of water, followed by sports drinks in colors not found in nature and muscle milks before transitioning in to juice and lemonade.

This incriminating evidence suggests that Boston-area college students want to build muscle mass, stay up late and take their lessons from celebrity adolescence. Sounds accurate, doesn’t it? These same students want water &- turns out it’s necessary for survival or something &- but they want their water to say something about themselves. Your bottle of water says a lot about you. Poland Spring suggests that either you are a straight male or perhaps that you rely on more than just a water bottle to convey your identity. Fiji and SmartWater mark you as a wearer of leggings &- I’m sorry, but its true. Dasani probably means you just needed a bottle of water, and you who purchase the newest coconut water in faceted cardboard containers know you are hip without my having to tell you. You can buy things at CampCo other than liquids and magazines, but the notebooks and tissues are hidden in the back. More easily accessible are all the travel grooming products you would need if you just happened to spend the night away from home or if you were hoping to impress a potential mate. Help yourself to deodorant, mouthwash and a comb all priced out of the range of any normal corner store.

The only thing missing from this college vignette are cigarettes. Most of us remember the days when the favorite carton could be bought along with late-night Flips with Convenience Points. Parent-subsidized vice is the final important clue to our four-year term &- maybe Cup Noodle.

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