NYC: The city that never sleeps, or stops drinking tiny crustaceans with pincers on them

Crisp, bright flavors of honeysuckle with a slight oaky creaminess on the finish. (via Gothamist)

GateHouse — There are a great many reasons I don’t live in New York City: I’m easily terrified, I hate the cold, I got passed over for the J. Jonah Jameson role in the “Spider-Man” musical (thanks for nothing, The Edge), I learned the hard way not to do anything Huey Lewis tells me to do (that was an internship I’d like to forget) and when it comes right down to it I am a deeply domesticated, weight-gaining fancypants who enjoys owning both the parking spot adjacent to where I live and my very own washing machine. Also I’m partial to relaxed-fit jeans.

At least those were the reasons as of last week. The reason I don’t live in NYC this week, aside from the fact that no one has remotely offered me a job there, is that their tap water is filled with invisible living crustaceans, all of which have heads and many of which have pincers. Whenever possible, I try not to ingest pincers, which isn’t usually a problem as long as you can avoid Wendy’s.

Recently, the NYC blog Gothamist published a post confirming that New York tap water, while among the cleanest in the nation (choke on that, Iowa City), is filled with very small, very brown, very crunchy-looking crustaceans called copepods, which, loosely translated means “It Doesn’t Matter What It Translates Into Because The Suffix -Pods Is In It, Gross.”


• Digital Underground – Underwater Rimes (Remix).mp3


According to the post and accompanying photos, which are best enjoyed with one friend making clicking noises and the other occasionally lightly touching your hair, copepods are like tiny, squished-and-stretched-out Predators whose claws/pincers are as long as their bodies and look like they’d make your water feel like really pulpy OJ. I also see 18 eyes on them, but I’m squeamish and drinking.

Now, I live near the beach in South Carolina. And I’m sure if you did a rigorous environmental analysis on my tap water, which according to state law is never required, you would find scientific validation that we’re all brushing our teeth with a considerable percentage of dolphin parts. Fine. These are life’s little sacrifices. So I’m not under the impression that I’m enjoying 100% pure angelwater from a Zen temple-spring in the unmapped Rockies down here or anything, although the more I type this paragraph the harder it is to keep drinking this beer. Hang on. Actually, it’s not that hard to keep drinking this beer.

So for first-person insight — and for the first time in the history of this column, “reporting” — I checked with Actual Brooklyn Vegan Tim Donnelly, impending famous author of one of my favorite and best-named blogs, Inverted Soapbox, who seemed oddly at peace with the news.

“I was first notified of the presence of liquid crustaceal interlopers via the Internet, which has made a hobby of ruining many things that I previously enjoyed through blissful ignorance (see also Christmas),” he emailed from a coffee shop that’s probably open until 3 a.m. “But if science has taught us anything, it’s that everything we know and love is actually made of tiny creepy crawly eerie tentacle-y things, and that’s what separates us from the Cylons.”

Donnelly is also unconcerned with the effects on his lifestyle. “Being a vegetarian for 10 years, I equate the presence of redundant microscopic shrimp in the water the same as accidentally getting bugs in my teeth while riding my bike,” he writes, through his beard. “However, the aspiring vegan that I am, I have started getting up at 3 a.m. to pour several glasses of water for the day and delicately pick through each one with a tiny tweezers.”


Related, sort of

• Inverted Soapbox: Stories From A Freelance Writer In Brooklyn


REPORTING COMPLETE. Christ, that was hard. And get this: Not only does the average New Yorker not care about the shrimp, but they’re actually beneficial: The copepods are known to eat mosquito larvae, which obviously are a much bigger problem than stupid molecular-level shrimpwater.

Thing is, I do not care if they’re helpful. I do not care if they’re the Pocahontases of the New York City plumbing system. I do not care if they help elderly widows get to the doctor, or organize angel trees throughout Brooklyn, I will never drink NYC tap water without imagining that I am slurping down cupfuls of seafood (my apologies to Huey Lewis). But that’s why I don’t live in the big city. Donnelly’s solution is much more artful: “To counteract the potential effects of Hidden Aquatic Shrimp, I have begun a steady regiment of drinking from the public cocktail sauce fountain down at Prospect Park.” It’s by the coffee shop.


About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

6 responses to “NYC: The city that never sleeps, or stops drinking tiny crustaceans with pincers on them

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