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07/24/2012 @ 9:27am

There’s a chance limeade can save the world.

Not a big chance, but stay with me on this.

We had a social function last week – a picnic with a group of family members– and I was in town getting some last minute groceries.

I forgot the lemonade on the first pass through the store and was heading back through the freezer aisle when the frozen canned juices captured my eye.  My first plan had been to get some of the powdered stuff – all premeasured, just rip off the top and add to two quarts of water.  There’s no muss, no fuss, but also no sugar, no real ingredients other than chemicals and it doesn’t actually taste very good.  In fact, when added to cool, clear water, it’s a considerable downgrade, but it is fast and easy.  Instead, on a whim, I brought home a few cans of frozen limeade, the same kind we drank all the time when I was a kid.  You just take it out of the freezer, run a little warm water over the outside of the can to break the contents loose, dump it in a pitcher and add four cans of water, then stir until the lumps melt.  If you were having a bunch of people over, you’d just add water until you had enough in the pitcher to give everyone a glass and they’d all pretend they hadn’t noticed it had been watered down.

I’m not sure what’s in it – my guess is just ground up fruit and sugar.  I took a drink and wondered why I ever stopped drinking it.  I licked the rim of the glass and rubbed some lime pulp out of my beard.  It tasted so much better than the instant stuff.  While it was a little more bother, mixing it up took about a minute more out of my life than the rip/pour/swirl stuff.  And, yes, there were considerably more calories in it, but I really wonder if a lot of the problems we have in this country come from our belief that we can have everything without any cost.

Beverage debate is a slight thing, but it made me think about all the compromises we make that cause our lives to be smaller.  Sure, if you drink diet pop you can drink twenty cans a day and theoretically not gain an inch or an ounce, but let me tell you a secret.  It tastes awful.  And if you’re reading this and thinking, “No, I love diet pop,” you’re either fibbing or you’ve forgotten what the real stuff tastes like.  

And there’s so much in our world where we’ve sacrificed what’s real for what’s fast, easy, or cheap.  You can’t look anywhere, from what’s on TV, to what we’re reading, to what passes for a political campaign or public discourse without thinking that we’ve substituted cheap and easy for valuable and thoughtful.  Our news media substitute hysteria for analysis and our entertainment has substituted notoriety for talent.

In this life there are moments of transcendent joy, of revelation and inspiration, but there aren’t very many of them.  Most of what makes life worthwhile comes in little doses - the pleasure of a baby’s smile, the satisfaction of a job done well, a handshake from a friend or the hug of a child and a wise person builds their world around such small pleasures.

Am I making too much of a simple foil package of fake lemonade?  Well, sure, no doubt.  But I think from here on out, if I want something other than water on a hot summer’s day, it’ll be something real, and if that means I need to walk an extra mile to get rid of the calories I’ll do it.

There is so much in this world that is out of our control, that is maddening, frustrating, and just plain mean.  If you can have something real, even if there is a price to pay, you should grab it and gladly pay the price.

Anyway, that's what I think.

Copyright 2011 Brent Olson

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