Confessions of a Water-Spiller

I can’t deny it any longer: I am a water-spiller. I spill water. Not all the time, but more than most people. Not intentionally — but does that matter? If you’re sitting near me, and I have a glass of water, be afraid. Be very afraid.

Here’s what to expect, if you ever find yourself sitting across the table from me at a restaurant. One minute, we’ll be eating and chatting like normal people, and then, without warning, I’ll lose situational awareness* and make some random hand gesture that sends my water glass flying across the table, drenching you in the process. The entire restaurant staff will flock to the table with napkins and towels, and in a moment, the table will be dry, you’ll be somewhat damp, and I’ll be trying desperately to convince myself that no one noticed. Next comes the truly crazy thing: someone will bring me another glass of water, in what I assume is a wildly misguided demonstration of trust. Or a dare. Or some kind of test. Or maybe it’s an attempt at first aid — perhaps they assume that the water-spilling was the result of a loss of motor skills caused by severe dehydration**.

If you do find yourself sitting across from me at a restaurant, you may want to try one of these strategies:

  1. Switch seats with someone else (but not me, because that would defeat the purpose).
  2. Help me maintain water glass awareness by subtly working water-spilling into the conversation (“I love your blog. My favorite post was the one about how you’re always spilling glasses of water on people in restaurants. Oh, look! We’re in a restaurant! Ha ha. What a coincidence. Hey, did I mention that my spouse and I are considering having a baby at some as-yet-undetermined point in the future, and that if we do, we’ll buy several sippy cups for said baby? You know what’s great about sippy cups? If you knock one over, nothing spills out of it, which distinguishes it from a regular water glass — you know, like that one right there, just inches from your hand.”).
  3. Glare silently at me throughout the entire meal. This will make me so uncomfortable that I’ll refrain from making the sort of gestures that lead to water glass catastrophes.
  4. Preemptively spill your glass of water on me.

The vast majority of my water spills occur in restaurants, although I have spilled water onto laptop computers at home twice. And once, on an airplane, I forgot that I’d taken the lid off the water bottle I was holding and accidentally poured water onto the man sitting next to me. He was surprisingly nice about it.

*I first encountered the phrase situational awareness months ago, and I’ve been trying to work it into conversation ever since.

**According to the Internet, loss of motor skills is not a symptom of severe dehydration. But I don’t think you need to know that to work in a restaurant.

26 thoughts on “Confessions of a Water-Spiller

  1. I feel your pain. I’m also a water-spiller. I leave a trail of water droplets through our flat which infuriates my partner. It is odd how what seems like a small bit of water in a glass becomes a huge deluge once knocked over.

    1. Your partner is being short-sighted. Leaving a trail of drops is a good thing, because it reduces the size of the deluge that will inevitably come later.

  2. I love how messed up you are. Awesome. I had a spill in a Pizza Hut once. With soda! Sticky soda! Mortifying.

    I think you need to go off water in restaurants. Have your lunch mate order one and keep it at arm’s length. Then, if you want a sip, they can hold the glass in front of you, directing a straw at your face. But that’s it. You’re only allowed a straw. And you have to keep your hands on your lap while you sip. Hey, desperate times.

    Thanks for the laugh. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who embarrasses herself in public. We gotta stick together.

    1. That sounds like it’s worth a try — I’m going to have have cards printed up explaining the procedure. I should probably have them laminated, just in case.

  3. Bad planning. I placed a glass of water in front of me, where my hands would be, and we all unconsciously move out hands when we talk. I did not take that into consideration. I knocked it over when I was telling a story.
    If you really continually spilling water, you are subconsciously looking for attention “everyone notices me when I spill= positive feedback”.

    1. It just seems like it’s happening all the time. Whenever I spill water in a restaurant, I suddenly remember all the previous water-spilling incidents. It’s like the cliche about your life flashing before your eyes, except more embarrassing and less interesting.

      1. LOL at chair needing attention joke below, but seriously, like people enjoy horror films (safe fear) you might be enjoying the powerful feeling-fear-phobia of spilling water.Or its a paradox , like if you look at the tree you are about to hit while skiing, you tend to hit it, or like the scene in the movie the Matrix , Neo is told not to mind the vase by the Oracle, so he looks for the vase, and knocks it over, but you are both Neo and the Oracle.

  4. I only spill tea. and only when there’s a keyboard nearby to ruin.

    oh. or if there’s a glass I could break, then I’ll swivel in my chair and knock it off with the back of the chair, but that’s not *me* that’s the chair.

    It’s evil.

  5. The Boy has a drinking problem. He likes to spill water down his front, rather than put it in his mouth when he drinks. It is good that he has chosen to stick to water.

    My niece, 6, spilled her pop (soda, for some) at a restaurant and was really upset. It was a legitimate accident so I was trying to make her feel better. At the very next meal we weren’t even settled before I spilled my drink all over the table. I was so happy for the teaching opportunity that I totally let everyone else clean up while I talked about how everyone spills.

    My point: I will totally come to your house and spill water to make you feel better.

    1. You’re providing an extremely valuable service. I realize you’re doing this out of a spirit of kindness and generosity, but if you wanted to, you could totally make a business out of it.

  6. Perhaps you’re part fish and you’re trying to hydrate your friends. Nevertheless, if we go out to dinner I’ll be sure to bring handcuffs.

  7. As a relatively new waitress, I once spilled 2 giant plates of baby back ribs, beans, and corn on a man’s lap. He was also surprisingly nice about it. Another time, when I worked at Bob’s Big Boy, I spilled a tray containing two jumbo cherry Cokes, two coffees, and cream on two women who were sitting across from their dates, on Valentine’s Day. They were horrible about it. But who goes to Bob’s on Valentine’s Day?! Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is that when a waiter sees you spill water, they probably assume they spilled it themselves. Then they notice you have no water, so they get you a glass. It makes perfect sense.

    1. They were probably horrible about it because they were bitter about being at Bob’s on Valentine’s day.

      I like the idea of a waiter taking the fall for my water spills, though. A waiter who loudly exclaimed something like “I’m so sorry that I spilled your water while you were away from your table and nowhere near the spill which was completely my fault and for which I apologize” would get a really big tip

  8. I like that you give instructions on how to distract you from this habitual water spilling. That shows how sensitive and considerate you are and that, as a fellow water spiller myself, I won’t have to spill my water back on you from reflex. :-)

  9. I once spilled a full glass of tea on my fiance in the middle of a restaurant. The best parts went in this order:

    a) It was a totally full glass of sweet tea (which is the only thing he drinks at restaurants), and it went directly into his lap. All of it…
    b) Except for the part that somehow careened off his shirt flaps, and waterfalled into my open purse, onto…
    c) my brand new phone that I had purchased not three hours prior.
    d) A lot (according to the mom, but I say it was only three or four) of ice cubes ricocheted off the table and my husband’s knee, and hit a small toddler who was aimlessly playing on the floor nearby. One, the young girl swears, hit her in the eye. she screeched for the next five minutes, before her mother finally took pity on all of the restaurant patrons (who were for some reason all glaring at me) and carried the girl outside
    e) the server came back and was like, “Oh dude, we ran out of sweet tea. Sorry, man.”
    f) He brought my fiance a Coke, but when he went to set it down, it teetered off-balance because of a stray shard of ice that the server didn’t see…and spilled into my fiance’s lap.

    Strangely, he married me anyway/always keeps a close eye on my drinks now.

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