A large part of my education these days is challenging old myths that still persist in my life. Like Eric Weiner in “The Geography of Genius”, I must learn to chuck my prepossessing notion of genius and admit that for many of the deeper things in life – knowledge beyond immediate comprehension – I just don’t know. Such an admission would then hopefully force me to enlighten myself. Remaining ignorant on a subject won’t do it if it results in the putting myself or loved ones at risk. Yesterday was one of those times when I chose to show that I am anything but a genius except in my own mind. A couple of years backs we bought a case of bottled water to make up our emergency kit. At the time, we took note of the best-before date and then stored it away without another thought. Earlier this year, we got around to adding a few more items to the kit, at which time we noticed that the water potability had finally expired. Okay, because we are frugal people the big question remained what to do with it. Nobody from our background likes parting with things especially when it has been paid for, unless it has been tainted with mold or doesn’t smell right. Yes, I had been alerted to the fact that bottled water is usually not drinkable past its shelf life but never took the time to check it out on the Internet. In a moment of blustering silliness, I decided to tempt fate yesterday that just maybe these claims – not underscored in clear warnings on the label – by showing Belle that an outdated product could have little or no deleterious affect on me. What I was trying to prove I am not sure other than to challenge conventional wisdom. I knew better but wanted to push the discussion on what to do next to a new level: maybe taking small mouthfuls would lessen the impact and make sure that nothing got wasted. Well, after that one and only swig, I wish I had never showcased my ‘brilliance’. Like eating the forbidden fruit back in the Garden, the initial sense was simply that it was water. Then a slightly bitter taste emerged at which point I stopped, turned to the sink to spit it out, only to realize that I was too late. Within a minute, my body started to itch and feel queasy. Though I was able to hang in for the rest of the afternoon -blogged, went for a walk, jogged, read, skyped and ate – the itch and the light nausea remained to the point of finding it hard to get to sleep. I finally got around to phoning the provincial online emergency service to find out the true nature of my suspected poisoning. Probably the first smart move I had made on how to handle bottled water. The nurse, after a few probing questions, understood the nature of my discomfort. Yes, based on an earlier experience she had with bottled water herself, I had drunk some bad water resulting from bacteria building up in a product where the protective ozone had clearly broken down either because of poor storage or expiration date. Even though I had consumed only a very small amount, there were enough unfriendly – not lethal – pathogens in my system to make me feel unwell. So what I have learned from this protracted experience other than the obvious. One, Nestle, when bottling its cheaply obtained product – water drawn from a BC aquifer for pennies on the dollar – doesn’t make an effort to clearly list its expiration date and the implications if not followed. Two, storing water to see yourself through the big one has its limitations. If an earthquake happens and your regular water supply is cut off, bottled water might last a couple of days if it is still potable. Bottled water, it has been repeatedly shown, is no more safer to drink than its tap version, and maybe less healthy when one considers its limited storage life. What one is buying is a myth that amounts to momentary convenience based on a plastic bottle in hand and the alleged wonders of ozone. Trust me, I will never treat this product so cavalierly again.