Mary and I often talk about how we should be more spontaneous. We are both Grade A Organizers and Planners — which, in general, great life skill! BUT it also tends to leave little room for random adventures. So last week we took a 24-hour international trip on a Wednesday to see the Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake concert in Vancouver, BC. Not spontaneous, as it had definitely been planned out… but you know, not a NORMAL thing for us to do on a Wednesday. BABY STEPS, people.
Midnight poutine seemed like a necessity after the concert (which OMG YOU GUYZ AMAZING), especially after our gracious host Robin learned that Byron had never had poutine. So after spilling out of the stadium, we followed the throngs of people out into the streets of Vancouver.
So, two things to keep in mind at this point: 1) It was midnight… well past midnight, really. 2) It was a Wednesday. There were SO MANY PEOPLE! ALL THE PEOPLE! Downtown Seattle at 1am is dead dead dead. Vancouver at midnight… it actually reminded me of being in Vegas, the crowds of people spilling into the streets, paying little heed to cars, the women teetering around in stilettos and the men steadying them for balance.
Robin said the poutine was “just around the corner.” A dozen corners later, and we finally staggered into Smoke’s Poutinerie (at this point in the day, I’d been up since 4:55am, we’d all gone to work then driven 6 hours, danced for 3 hours at a concert… so yeah. “Staggered” is the appropriate verb). The line was out the door, but dammit, we’d made it this far, we were getting poutine.
“Hold the lemon. Just hold the lemon. It’ll be ok.”
It was a long line, full of women in short dresses and men in too-tight T-shirts. A chalkboard above the single cash register listed about 30 different poutine options. And as I tried to focus (and stay awake), my eyes kept wandering to the guy with the lemon.
He had a lemon — one single lemon — that he held close to his chest, almost in a loving fashion. He kept holding it out and offering it to women. “Here, take the lemon. Just touch it, it’s ok, you can hold it.”
He kept doing this over and over. And granted, I was exhausted and starving and smelling delicious poutine, but I was fixated on this guy. I don’t even think he put in a poutine order. He just kept offering up this lemon. He and his friend seemed to think it was all hilarious. The women presented with the lemon seemed bemused. And the whole thing was clearly somehow… sexual? Like, “lemon” was some sort of code word? But then there was the actual real-life lemon, right there, that this guy for whatever reason had brought into a poutinerie at midnight on a Wednesday.
I watched with increasing wonder. What was the point of the lemon? Why was he sexualizing a lemon? Had this pick-up line worked in the past? What would he do if a woman actually did take the lemon?
The women, in turn, looked at him oddly and maybe gave a small laugh. A few of them did reach out and touch it (but not take it). They all seemed as confused as I felt. I desperately wanted one of them to tell this guy to shut up and shove it — but then, thinking about it, if I were in their shoes, if I had been offered the lemon, what would I have done? I’d like to think I would have put the lemon in my purse and walked out of the shop. “You want me to take the lemon? I’LL TAKE YOUR DAMN LEMON.”
In reality though, I probably would have done the same as these other women. Given a weird smile, tried to ignore the guy, and stared determinedly at my poutine. But a week later, I still want to know the secret of the lemon.