“Mr. Gladwell adheres to a firm life rule that he drink only five liquids: water, tea, red wine, espresso and milk.”
The New York Times, 8/30/19


The Musonoi Mine is located in the Katanga Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Commercial operations began in the 1920s. Locals were forced to labor in the mine and many perished. Besides copper, the mine produced minerals like berzelianite and torbernite. Torbernite is a radioactive, hydrated copper uranyl phosphate. It is named after Swedish chemist Torbern Berman. In 1770, Berman invented an apparatus to produce carbonated water using the chalk from sulfuric acid. Based on these unrelated anecdotes, no one should drink soda.


Last fall, my friend Marguerite hosted a dinner party. The first course was beef Consommé, a recipe from her grandmother. I winced as the revolting broth hit my tongue. I inquired how many hours her grandmother had spent perfecting the recipe. Marguerite replied that she had no idea. “More or less than 10,000?” I demanded. Tearfully, she admitted it was less than 10,000. “Then she was not an expert.” I poured the soup on the floor, teaching Marguerite an important lesson. Never serve Malcolm Gladwell an inexpert liquid.


Recently, I attended the wedding of a friend’s daughter. I had never met the couple, but after observing the newlywed’s behavior for four seconds I knew the marriage would not last. At the reception, her father gave a beautiful speech and asked us to toast the couple’s future happiness. I put the glass to my lips, but could not bring myself to drink to a marriage I knew was doomed to fail.


For my glorious curls, I use a homemade blend of organic coconut milk and oil from the finest Eurasian minks. Drinking this concoction would be a terrible waste of money and minks.


It’s like fruit farted into a can. I don’t need to justify this with data.


“In the act of tearing something apart, you lose its meaning.” – Malcolm Gladwell
Remove gravy from its place as the creamy binder of the American Thanksgiving and you have nothing more than a gelatinous meat gloop. Pass.

Unset Jell-O

A marshmallow is set in front of a child. If the child can wait to consume the treat for fifteen minutes, he will be given a second marshmallow. Stanford professor Walter Mischel found the ability to delay gratification was a key indicator of positive life outcomes. Every time I make Jell-O, I am tempted to sip the warm red goo, but I know that by letting it set in the fridge, I am setting myself up for success.


Proverbs 5:15: Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well.
Drinking urine can be seen everywhere from ancient Roman rituals to Ayurvedic texts to Bear Grylls on The Discovery Channel. If I were to add a sixth liquid to my list, urine would be the top contender.


Soylent is a paste-like beverage that contains all the ingredients necessary for human survival. At first, I was thrilled to narrow my food and drink choices to a single tasteless sludge, but The New Yorker rejected my pitch for “Malcolm Gladwell’s Soylent Spring.”

Cough Syrup

Last week, I went to the doctor for a severe, hacking cough. He wrote me a prescription for codeine cough syrup. A liquid. As I stood in line at Walgreens, my raw throat begging for relief, I wrestled with my predicament. Would I have to update the list officially? What if I froze the syrup and ate it with a spoon? What if I took it and didn’t tell anyone? “Wow Malcolm, that cough sure did go away quickly,” I imagined a colleague remarking. “Hot tea did the trick,” I would lie. I tore up the prescription.

It is exhausting to be the warden in a prison of your own creation.