Sneaking a sprinkling invites a finking

August 12, 1999|By Kevin Cowherd

NEIGHBORS snitching on neighbors, police banging on the doors of startled citizens in the middle of the night, people weaseling around water restrictions by taking several baths a day and using the tub water to keep their yards green you gotta love a good drought for the way it brings us all together.

God forbid something really serious, like a massive twister or rampaging flood, ever hits Maryland.

We'd be eating our young before the day was out.

Here's what I love best: More than a week into the state's mandatory curbs on watering, there are still homeowners tilting their heads to one side like confused Scotch terriers and asking: "Um what am I allowed to water again?"

Hoo, boy. Look, I'm not the brightest guy in the world. But I feel like Stephen Hawking compared to some of these people.

For the most part, all Joe and Jane Average Citizen need to know is this: you can water flowers, shrubs, vegetable gardens. You can't water lawns or wash cars.

C'mon, how hard is that? They're not asking you to memorize "The Merchant of Venice" here.

Then there are the weasels who know what's included in the water ban, but try to get around it anyway.

Did you read in The Sun yesterday about the guy in Frederick County who was using soapy water from his washing machine to wash his car?

Think about that for a moment.

What kind of a life can this guy possibly have?!

What kind of a person wakes up in the morning, jumps out of bed and thinks: "You know what would be cool? Do a couple loads of laundry, right?

"Then hook up a bucket to the washing machine and use the left-over soapy water to wash the car!" Dude! You're a wild man, you know that?!

I wanna party with you, guy!

Then there was the woman -- also in Frederick County, so maybe we should be more concerned about what's in the water out there -- who was helping ease drought conditions by taking several baths a day.

Yes, that's right.

Not one bath a day.

Not two baths a day.

Several baths a day.

The thing is, this wasn't some cleanliness wacko or bath-gel freak.

No, this was even sicker.

It turns out the woman was bathing so much so she could then hustle outside with the bath water to pour on her flowers and trees.

I don't know. You read stories like that and you think: Maybe they should bring back public floggings.

In the meantime, with the water restrictions firmly in place for the rest of the summer, most homeowners exude the kind of wariness normally found on the Gaza Strip or the Shankill Road in Belfast.

Where I live, there have not yet been any reported incidents of neighbors turning one another in for alleged water ban violations, but this may simply be a matter of dumb luck so far.

This probably sounds hugely paranoid, but I myself am afraid to even pick up a garden hose.

My wife asked me to water the flowers the other day and I said: "Oh, no. Not a chance, sister. You're not getting me busted."

Because how is that going to look?

You're standing there wetting down the marigolds and all of a sudden a police cruiser comes screaming into the driveway, lights flashing.

"Just got a call from one of your neighbors, pal," one of the cops barks.

Within seconds, you're handcuffed and they're leading you to the cruiser as you try desperately to fling a raincoat over your head in case the media show up.

By now, of course, a crowd has gathered to see what the fuss is all about.

They see your wife standing there in the doorway and as the cruiser backs down the driveway, they ask her what happened.

Tears brimming in her eyes, her voice quavering, she says: "He was watering the flowers and I I guess some of the water got on the grass."

A low murmur runs through the crowd. Heads shake in disgust.

From this point on, of course, your wife is shunned and the kids are ostracized.

And you? You have your own problems, stuck in the slammer, wearing an ugly orange jumpsuit and listlessly raking a plastic fork through three starchy meals a day.

Maybe you eventually make bail on a water ban rap, maybe you don't.

And how is that going to look on your permanent record?

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