Lemon County: Legal Lemons...
Lemon (County) Laws...
I don't mean the lemon laws about the car you shouldn't have bought because the wheels fell off on the way home. I mean the unwritten laws pertaining to living in lemon county. The social norms, as it were, but break them, and you discover there are consequences. These are those pesky little rules designed to catch out the unwary, marking you indelibly as not one of us. And I say "us" like I belong, but I know that even after living here for almost twenty years, I am still, and always will be, a foreigner...
The first law is that you must play every day.
Recreation is huge. Playing or coaching sports is a biggie, as is going to the gym, yoga class or the fitness craze du jour. This is however not enough. You need to mountain bike, ski or snowboard, surf or SUP (stand up paddle board), ride motorcycles in the dessert, and ride sea-doos or kayak in the harbor, preferably all in one weekend. You need to play golf twice a week, and scuba dive twice a year. Sitting still is completely illegal, so jogging, running or walking every day is a must. Even watching TV is to be done standing around with male friends so that you can animatedly punch the air, moan in despair, and high five at an aerobic level.
There are of course numerous articles and amendments to the above law. All activities must be done in appropriate clothing. Each activity has a strict dress code, and all such clothing and equipment must be less than six months old.
It is also absolutely forbidden to do any activity without a water bottle attached to the body or less than two feet away. This water must not come from a faucet, or locally. It must have traveled a three thousand mile minimum, to have the correct properties. Oh, and you don't drink water, you hydrate. Your water may have vitamins and natural flavorings added, but calories are banned.
Vacations are likewise, important, and thus mandated. Living in vacation-land is no excuse, it is vitally important for the health of the family unit to go to Hawaii once a year. Once there, you need to rent all of the recreational materials that are resting at home in your garage, and then you do all of the stuff you do back home, but Hawaiian style. It is acceptable to visit "Europe" in lieu of Hawaii as long as it is not too often. (BTW Europe is not a country, and all of it is not actually 'cute'.) A vacation in Mexico does not really count because you should have a weekend place down there, but Puerto Rico is acceptable if you are a serious surfing family and you speak Spanish.
The law states that you must not do anything yourself. Things like cutting the grass, washing your car, cleaning your house, fixing broken things, all these should be done by someone else. This is important because when you are not actually engaged in your career, you need to be playing (see law number one). Homeowners Associations (the primary law enforcement body in lemon county) take a dim view of homeowners being in their front yard for any reason. Gardeners are fine, and there should be a white craftsman's van outside your house a minimum of three times a month.
If for some bizarre reason you are found, say, changing the front brakes on a 1992 Saturn because you can, your house will be put up for sale to pay the extortionate fine, your belongings put into storage, and all in under six hours.
You will be informed by mail of your transgression, but seeing as you are now post restant at the nearest motel eight, you will not know exactly what you did wrong, and how much you now owe for the short sale, administrative fees, storage fees, and labor.
Another law that I personally always seem to have fallen foul of on a regular basis, is that all objects in the landscape have to be regularly trimmed. Grass, I understand, hedges and bushes, sure, but mature trees? It is the law that trees must be cut and made funny looking. There are some trees, coral trees for example, that cannot actually support their own weight, so trimming them is needed (whatever happened to natural selection?), but it breaks my heart to see beautiful trees treated like oversize Bonsai. Big sticks with green balls work ok when you're playing with Legos, not so much with a stand of forty-foot trees. I digress; the law is the law, even when it is unwritten.
Oh, yes, up there in the totally failed department, is the law that everyone has to be skinny. Bellies are banned in Lemon County. All women, regardless of age, must be size zero. All men have to have the same waistline they had on the day they got married. This is mostly achieved through rule one, playing as exercising, but is especially challenging in an area with so many outstanding places to eat. Cheating in this area is also completely acceptable, and anything that holds the promise of making you thinner, or making you look younger, is to be tried. I have to report that the irony is not lost on me when I see guys in “Old Guys Rule” t-shirts, who are in their sixties or better, and are way fitter than I was at twenty. (I’d like to create an answer back t-shirt that reads, “Old Guy’s Rule. Guy says, get fat and give in already.”)
I have to report that, though I know the Lemon Laws, I have patently failed at becoming a true Lemonillo. My only hope is that I may help a few of you avoid the wrath of the locals, should you ever have the urge to visit us.
Not knowing the law, unwritten or not, is no defense…
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