05/27/2013 02:06 EDT | Updated 07/26/2013 05:12 EDT

Water, Water Everywhere and Not A Drop Safe To Drink

Close-up of water boiling on gas burner
Getty Images
Close-up of water boiling on gas burner

I love flying Air Canada because the pilots swoop down like returning geese when they land in Montreal. As we soar past the St. Lawrence River, my stomach skips a beat from the quick descent. When I landed last night, I noticed the runway was wet. It had either rained, or the town was finally melting.

I was welcomed in two languages, a kiss on both cheeks, and a warning not to drink the city water. Don't brush your teeth; don't cook with it, don't even look at it -- unless you boil it first. The water level of the main reservoir has been accidentally compromised. It's low enough to introduce giardia when consumed. I had been introduced to that bitch years ago from my old friend sushi, and I have no interest in becoming reacquainted.

The news said it was safe to wash dishes with it, but my building posted signs in the elevator not to. When there are opposing facts, I fear conspiracy.

I rushed to the grocery at 9 p.m. and there was mayhem in the aisles; people were grabbing water like Americans grabbing free cheese. They ran out of bottled water and I just stood in the centre of the store empty handed, glad guns never took off here.

I never knew how much I relied on water. Back home, I sat there in the dark, sipping seltzer, flipping between French and English news trying not to get thirsty but needing to be informed. All the talk about water made me need to pee really badly but I was afraid to waste the fluid. Suddenly, a fierce storm hit, driving rain at my windows with thousands of insulting slaps. No water for you.

It's now been 24 hours. I boiled pots of water but the resulting water tasted like food. Apparently I am also a bad dishwasher.

I walked to the shops today to get dinner. The old lady in the poissonnerie cackled when I asked if she had any large bottles of water. I want to believe she's nice but just very sick and that was a cough. Once home, I couldn't wash my salad greens so I shook them angrily. I rolled a radish around in a glass of water like I was rinsing a fake eye, and peeled the potatoes cursing the teacher that told me all the nutrients were in the skin.

I haven't showered. All I can hear is that damned Clinique salesman at Duty Free who went on and on about hydration and the skin being the body's biggest organ, so I am not about to willingly soak in tainted water.

I'll probably have to let the pets go. I quickly remember that I'm not really that mean and I don't have pets.

Dishes are piled up in the sink. Not only can I not wash the dishes, I actually can't wash dishes. Even if I could, at what point are they not contaminated? I can soap them up, but the rinsing water messes them back up. Kind of like the circle of germs that using a public bathroom creates - I wash my hands then stare at the nasty door handle, frozen in place, unable to exit, hating everyone I don't know.

I'm in Montreal just to legally eat a little foie gras, and write about it. No, I can't just eat out, I scream at my friends back home in safe Los Angeles. I can't trust that a chef will boil water before they cook my food any more than they can trust that I'll write nice things.

How bad is it? Starbucks closed early today. This shit just got real.