A few days ago my 98-year-old neighbor came bouncing out his front door to catch me in my driveway.
“David," he shouted, “I’ve got something for you!" And with that he handed me a big bag of lemons.
Bob had been sitting on his back porch earlier that morning looking at the lemon tree he planted in 1948, seventy years ago just after he built his house. He said it has produced bushels of lemons every year since 1949, and the only thing he has ever done to the tree since planting it is pick the lemons. No water, no fertilizer, no pruning, nothing. Just pick the lemons. He said he is running out of people to give the lemons to, so it’s up to me to take up the slack.
Well, I like lemons, but this seems to be a bigger job than I wish to deal with; however, for now I’ll use as many lemons as I can. Let’s see, lemon pound cake, lemon water, lemon iced tea, lemon pie, lemonade, lemon chicken, uh, lemon ice cubes, lemon … Oh, my! This brings back into my thoughts a few lemon incidences.
At one time I had a position with a company that required a lot of travel. My main office was in Chicago, but I was often away, and my assistant James kept things running in my absence. Needless to say, James knew my schedule, and once when I was slated to return to the office, his wife baked me a lemon pie.
James brought the pie to work and somehow managed to sneak it past the security guard and other employees and into my office without being seen. Believe me when I say if just just one person had noticed it, the pie would not have made it to its destination. Rather than leave it on my desk where anyone walking by would have noticed it, James placed the pie in my desk’s chair where I would be certain to see it. Best laid plans.
I arrived at the office a few minutes later, pulled out my chair, and promptly sat on the pie. At first I was confused. My chair didn’t feel right. Did someone swap chairs with me? As I stood up, I realized what had happened. To be honest I really wanted to sample some of the pie parts that appeared to have been left in tact, but I thought better of it. After all, my bottom had just sat on that pie. At least I had a couple of extra suits in the travel bags I kept in the office.
Another time lemons impacted my life was again at the same office about a year later. One of the other department heads had made some limoncello using a recipe from his Italian grandfather. He managed to get it past the security guards and into my office where he closed the door behind him. I watched as he pulled out two oversized shot glasses and the bottle of limoncello from his overcoat. He uncorked the bottle and filled both glasses. He picked up one of the glasses and knocked it back in one gulp, and then he pointed to the second glass and to me. I must say it was good.
A second round was poured, and it went down even easier than the first. Then a third round was poured. I can remember asking him if I really wanted to do this, but I absolutely do not remember his answer. Later—much later—he told me I didn’t make it to the fourth round. It turns out his old Italian grandfather’s recipe started with a bottle of Everclear 190 proof.