The Russians brainwashed my wife.

No, the Russians did not persuade my wife to vote against Donald Trump for President last year. Her love of primary election rival Bernie Sanders and her lifelong leaning toward liberalism kept her from voting for Trump, the Republican nominee.

But the Russians are being successful in getting my wife to believe some weird things.

“Buy distilled water!” she said.

But I like spring water. When we are somewhere that has tap water that is funky to drink, I buy spring water in gallon jugs.

“You are bringing amoebas and protozoa into our house,” she claims.

“I read it on the Internet.”

Shazzam. The Russians strike again.

Never mind that amoebas are protozoa. I reminded her of that.

“They are just cousins,” she said. “They are both in the water.”

Aside from having read this on the Internet, how does she know that “amoebas and protozoa” are in the spring water jugs I bring home?

“I smell chlorine when I open them,” she says.

Umm ... the smell of chlorine ought to be proof that only the dead bodies of protozoans are in that water.

But, no. The zooplankton could be alive. Chlorine-resistant. Immortal.

“I read it on the Internet.”

Last year, we are told, the Russians put things onto the Internet that said Donald Trump was preferable to Hillary Clinton politically.

But my wife told me that she did not vote for Donald Trump. I did not ask her whether, in November’s general election, she did vote for Hillary or wrote in Bernie Sanders’ name, but I know she did not vote for Trump.

Yet, we are told, she did read on the Internet that Trump would be better than Hillary. The Russians, we are told, planted scurrilous stories to that effect on the Internet, specifically on Facebook, where my wife practically resides for large chunks of time.

What we have not yet been told is that the Russians and their “fake news” could be scaring my wife into insisting that I imitate a clothes iron and ingest tasteless, yucky distilled water.

But it must be the Russians.

My wife is ordinarily so sensible about what we eat and drink.

She uses organic foods. She limits my intake of alcoholic beverages to the sip-it levels associated with wine tasting events (Sob!). She has banned nearly all things sugary from our diets.

She also gets regular exercise through yoga, walking, bicycling, etc.

Evidently, the Russians have not yet used the Internet to attack organic foods, yoga or exercise.

Will they?

That probably depends on whether Vladimir Putin, Russia’s automatically re-elected Poobah for Life, owns stock in organic food companies, or whether he gets his ill-gotten gains (any gains by Poobahs are always ill-gotten) from genetically modified non-organic foods or ... Horrors! ... Monsanto.

So my wife, as yet untouched by the Russians manipulating the Internet, continues to see to it that I eat healthy foods, get my exercise, avoid spiritous liquors (Sob!) and otherwise behave myself.

I usually accept all those efforts on my behalf. Pay no attention to the eight-ounce flask with the twist-off lid that is lurking in a secret hiding place. I do not even suggest that it might contain bourbon whiskey (Sob!).

Have you ever mixed bourbon whiskey (Sob!) with distilled water?

Blah. Bleech. Blooey.

Worse yet, have you ever drank distilled water?

“What WAS that?” my tongue asks my tonsils.

Only silence. My tonsils and adenoids were removed during prepubescent surgery designed to lessen throat infections. There was nothing there to answer my tongue.

Distilled water does have its uses. Way back when steam irons first became popular, I recall decanting distilled water from hard-to-pour gallon jugs into small pitchers that could be used to transfer the distillate into the irons, thereby lessening the chances that the minerals in the water would clog the vents of the steam iron. We also kept some in the garage, useful for topping off the water levels in the auto batteries of the 1960s.

But for topping off bourbon whiskey (Sob!), distilled water is bland.

I should note here that my fondness for bourbon whiskey is almost totally retrospective, a rose-colored memory of the hazy days of my misspent young adulthood, rather than a current dietary ingredient. Before the Internet-suggested ban became part of my wife’s “keep him healthy” arsenal, I might have a half-dozen such drinks in a year. I moan about being deprived by my wife’s pursuit of my good health, though in fact I am bemused.

But forbidden fruit, be it of the vine or the corn, sets fire to tantalizing desires, lusts that are dashed to ashes once the temptation is triumphant. The writer Jaquelle Crowe put it well:

“It’s hard to imagine what changed after that first bite of forbidden fruit, but it must have been a little like the power going out in the dead of winter.”

Or like drinking distilled water.

❑ ❑ ❑

Denny Bonavita is a former editor at newspapers in DuBois and Warren. He lives near Brookville. Email:

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