Life Can Be Draining

My losing 2022 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition entry.

Bev Potter
3 min readFeb 22, 2022
Photo by Scandinavian Biolabs on Unsplash

If this isn’t classic Erma Bombeck, I don’t know what is.

It’s a shame that society doesn’t value the skill required to balance one bottle on top of another bottle.

Draining every last drop of something from one bottle and putting it into another, fuller bottle seems like magic to some, obsession to others, “completely unnecessary” to still others. But it requires all the dedication and single-mindedness of a Jedi Knight.

Balancing one bottle on top of another bottle is a skill handed down from mother to daughter over the millennia. Anthropologists have found cave drawings of Neanderthals balancing shampoo bottles on top of one another to get every last drop.

People were living on a budget even in the Pleistocene. Neanderthal fathers could be heard yelling, “Who touched the thermostat?” while Neanderthal mothers entered a Zen state delicately balancing a dish soap bottle on top of another dish soap bottle with the precision of a brain surgeon operating on the Pope.

One false move and all is lost. Really, everyone should just leave the house and come back in a few days when the last of the lotion has glugged its way into the new bottle.

No one appreciates that I put my son through college, one penny at a time, by draining every last slow, reluctant drop of dish soap from an empty bottle into a full bottle.

By my calculations (which my husband says are wrong and “aren’t math”), I’ve saved $253,478.21 over the last 20 years by balancing one bottle on top of another bottle.

Sometimes there isn’t room for what was left in the empty bottle to go into the full bottle, but you just can’t stand looking at that almost empty bottle for another second. It taunts you with its almost-emptiness.

But you’re stronger than that last half inch of Oil of Olay.

This is when skill, fortitude, and the teachings of the Dalai Lama combine. “Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace,” you whisper as you finally match one opening to the other and step back much like…



Bev Potter

Legal secretary by day, insomniac by night. Ally. BA, MA. Humor, pop culture, and things that make you think. My weekly-ish newsletter is