Lightly Flavored? Water?

It jumped right out at me, that ad in one of those decidedly upscale consumer magazines. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t subscribe to it. I don’t fit its reader profile. Wouldn’t want to. The magazine was actually a free sample, something I’d sent for. I’ll try anything that’s free. Well, almost. But this particular ad just jumped out and bit me in the nose.

The headline said something read “Lightly Flavored Water!” That’s what grabbed my attention. I hadn’t heard that term before. Lightly flavored water? “OK,” I said, “I gotta read more about this taste sensation” the ad was touting. I’d obviously missed one of life’s most captivating taste delights.

As I continued to reading, I couldn’t help but laugh. The ad took me back a bunch of years to a time when my wife and I – along with several other couples our age – were starting our families. Money for us and our circle of friends back then was a lot tighter than in became as the years passed.

One couple in that group included my cousin and her husband, a nice guy who was in the process of building up a business he’d bought by borrowing against everything he had. But, hey, many of us were bitten by that bug back then. We all wanted to own our own businesses. Some of us made it, some didn’t. Kinda like today’s world.

But what made me chuckle as I continued reading about “Lightly Flavored Water” in this yuppie magazine was how the world seems to have come almost full circle without my realizing it.

My cousin, bless her, had developed a reputation back then for being frugal. “Cheap” was actually the word we used. But only when she wasn’t within earshot. “Frugal” wasn’t a word we knew the meaning of. But we certainly knew from “cheap.” And cheap and cousin Sherry were synonymous – all because of “Lightly Flavored Water.”

Nothing by that name existed back then. In fact, people weren’t yet aware that they would someday willingly pay big bucks for water in bottles. Water was free. It came out of the faucet by the kitchen sink. Now, of course, no one can leave home without clutching a bottle of water – 16 ounces for just $1.29. On sale. Every ask yourself why you didn’t think of that gimmick?

“Lightly Flavored Water” is an even better gimmick. And it was invented by my cousin Sherry years ago. Though she didn’t realize it at the time. And she hasn’t made even one thin dime off the idea since. But “Lightly Flavored Water” is what earned her the name, Cheap Sherry. And we weren’t talking about wine, either.

Every time we’d visit Sherry and her husband, their drink du jour was Kool-Aid®. But not just any old Kool-Aid. Sherry had a way for turning 10-cent packet of Kook-Aid into a endless sea of Kool-Aid.

While it might have started out as a pitcher of fruit flavored water, when it got down to that last glass of Kool-Aid in that pitcher, Cindy would head back to her kitchen and refill that pitcher with more water.

What started out as a ruby red, fruit flavored drink soon became pink. And by the time the evening was over that pink liquid became paler and lighter until it was almost as clear as the water she kept adding to the pitcher.

By the end of the evening what we were drinking was… You guessed it. “Lightly Flavored Water.” And it certainly didn’t cost $2.00 a pint. Heck, with a dime envelope of Kool-Aid, Sherry could serve a crowd of thirsty friends for an entire evening. Endlessly.

Bless you cousin, inventive genius that you were, though perhaps a little ahead of the curve when it came to “Lightly Flavored Water.” If only we’d known, we could all have been rich.