Free Lemonade for Life
Years ago, when my children were young, like most children, they had a fascination for lemonade stands and the childish entrance into the enticing world of finance and entrepreneurship. The kids would set up a card table and provide a mediocre product from a Kroger branded lemonade mix, at a price that couldn’t recover the cost that mom and dad put out for the supplies. It was never about the return on investment, it was about the lesson.
I got to thinking the other day about the lemon. Some drink a glass of room temperature lemon water as a morning cleanse. (Warning: Don’t drink lemon water after brushing your teeth, it won’t be pleasant). Some put lemon in their tea and water.
My father in law, a product of an orphanage in London, where you fought, literally, for the rare treats, would make his own lemonade at restaurants squeezing multiple lemons into his water and adding sugar packets. The result, crappy lemonade, and unbroken old habits.
The lemon makes amazing lemon meringue pie with a perfectly peaked meringue topping, browned just right, and a whipped creamy custard hidden below that magically allows for a crisp crust. My mouth is watering right now. My mother made the best lemon meringue pie. I still remember Lemon Heads at the movie theater. Some restaurants still give a little box of Lemon Heads candies with the check.
The fascination of lemons is that there is a fine line between the mouth curling sour taste of a lemon to the perfect application of the yellow fruit to the product of a fine chef. Fresh squeezed lemon on wiener schnitzel, to fresh caught grouper, to chicken picatta, is the key ingredient to a memorable dining experience.
Life is our friend and foe: The Lemon. We’ve all heard the expression, “When Life gives you Lemons, make Lemonade”. Well, some lemonade simply sucks. Will Smith, in the movie, Men in Black, can confirm that all lemonade is not equal (or good). I believe that there is a skill in learning to like lemons in all their variations.
The sour morning cleanse, if you focus on the good that it does, makes the lemon water bearable and repeatable. The stinging of lemon juice on a paper cut reminds you of the medicinal value that a lemon can bring. And it can remind you of how a difficult, or “Lemon Life,” can end up turning into a delectable and enjoyable life once sugar and good things replace the difficult times.
It is very easy to get overwhelmed today by Covid 19, to police injustices, to looting, to hatred and bigotry, to business challenges, and the like. It takes a mature and forward-thinking mind to recognize the healing power of suffering. What our society is learning through these most challenging times cannot be learned in a classroom. It only comes from living out suffering and staying focused on how we can come out of it better as a nation and as moral people, who recognize that all men and women are created equal and are equally worthy of our love, respect, and appreciation.
I ended up making the most amazing lemonade stand for my children. No Pinterest lemonade stand could hold a candle to my lemonade stand. On wheels, and custom built to fit perfectly into the back of a standard SUV or van, this lemonade stand says: You will get amazing lemonade from me! Problem is, I built it too late. My youngest, who was the most interested, ended up getting tall so quickly that he no longer fit into the lemonade stand.
I think that lemonade is a nice analogy to life. There is only a short amount of time in our life that the only thing we think about when hearing the word, Lemon, is selling lemonade. As we mature, we get away from our childish underfunded sales of lemonade, to a more sophisticated palette, like veal picatta, that only a lemon under intense heat, applied at the perfect time, by an experienced and capable chef, along with capers, will yield a mature and fulfilling meal/life.
I gave my lemonade stand away to our neighbors who still have three little children, that still fit into the lemonade stand. The deal is this. When the stand is open for business, Mr. Pinyot gets free lemonade for life. The lemonade still sucks, but it’s free!