Lemon County, California. A Wry Look At Our Fruitful Lives...
Welcome To Paradise...
Nestled between the (occasionally visible) flanks of Humpback mountain and the Specific Ocean lies the Southern Californian paradise of Lemon County. Looking remarkably like Orange County, one bite lets you know this place is just a little more tart, not bitter, but certainly with bite. This is God's country – upgraded and improved. Hills are moved to give other hills better views. The poor and cosmetically impaired are hidden in houses with bars on the windows, and the desert is coaxed into blooming lushness by water stolen from less glorious places.
The officers of the Highway Patrol are less feared than the fashion police, who in studied silence, cite bad teeth, hair and clothing, with public humiliation the weapon of choice.
Downtown means the mall.
Retail therapy is a regular part of life, with daily worship at the temple of consumerism available from 10 a.m. every morning until late into the evening. The only things larger than the malls are the churches. Lemon County has two mega-churches, both having mastered the conundrum of wealth and spirituality, funded by book sales and driven by rock concerts called worship leadership.
Politics divides this paradise into ultra-conservatives and just plain ordinary conservatives, a divisive pustule that threatens to erupt at every social gathering. Everyone assumes that everyone else is a Christian and a Republican, and a fragile peace prevails.
Then there are the schools. Due to the high cost of freeways and water there is no money for schools. The Public option (said quietly for fear of bringing attention to your non-millionaire status) is entirely funded by bake sales, and is run by the most powerful political entity in the county, the PTA.
The correct option is Private School. It should be expensive, exclusive, and reflect the demographic of the nearest gated community. It is permissible to have a Jewish school, or even claim non-denominational status but, again, the “proper” school will be Christian. You will be able to identify its Christian-ness by the liberal use of an obscure saint's name, and by the fashion backward use of a tartan material for the girl's jumpers. These are, in fact, not tartans, but plaids, and thus de-Scottished, perfectly acceptable wear for Lemon County's young virgins.
Where you live is critical, but with every other person in the County being a realtor, help is never far away in that department. A million dollar tract home will do, but to be truly "in," you need to build your own house. You buy a lot, say 1,200 square feet, and build a three-storey mansion that magically includes more than 3,600 square feet of living space (the absolute minimum permissible). It requires a pool, or at least a Jacuzzi, a screening room, bedrooms, and more bathrooms than bedrooms by a factor of two.
All kitchens are entirely decorative and are never, under any circumstances, to be used for cooking. (If you hire caterers, they may use the kitchen for that purpose, but be sure to pull the requisite permits from the County.)
Your house must have a view, anything that can be looked at in the distance when the smog or June-gloom lifts. Ocean view is a clear favorite, with bonus points for seeing an island somewhere, closely followed by views of Humpback itself, or even just hills with no houses on them…yet. If stuck, city lights will do at a pinch, but it is critical that your house have a view.
You then join the local militia, sometimes called a community association, where the only item on every agenda is "protection of the view," with perhaps some mention of re-landscaping already landscaped areas.
Someone spoiling your view, because of an untrimmed tree, for example, can be banished from the county. Forever.
The weather, apparently perfect, is given a little help by air conditioners when warm, and patio heaters when cool. Rain is a phenomenon that removes hillsides and instantly makes cars magnetic, forcing them to crash into one another.
Everyone in Lemon County, or the "LC," as locals call it, is from somewhere else. I came from England, a tiny island with a huge ego. However, after nearly twenty years living in the "LC," I feel qualified enough to provide insight about living in our little corner of paradise and to raise a question or two as to why we do the things we do.
And to have a healthy laugh at our idiosyncrasies…
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