When I was a child, I had a friend named Emily. (Actually I still have a friend named Emily, but no matter). Emily had a house that had a furnished basement. And the furnished basement had a fridge that contained rows and rows of tiny green bottles filled with a deliciously zingy liquid called Bitter Lemon. It was, if I remember correctly, her father’s favorite drink. And soon after Emily first introduced me to Bitter Lemon, it became my favorite drink too.
Of course, access was a problem. I could drink as much as I wanted at Emily’s house. But my house didn’t have a furnished basement. And it certainly didn’t have a fridge stocked with Bitter Lemon. So I would binge and then go through prolonged periods of withdrawal. Finally, after some not-so-subtle hints, Emily would invite me over again, and the cycle would begin anew. That is, until I hatched a brilliant plan.
The plan was relatively simple: I would beg. Through feverish bouts of shameless begging, I hoped to convince my father to drink Bitter Lemon, or at least to buy Bitter Lemon so that I might drink it. And lo and behold, it worked.
Of course, unlike Emily’s family, we never had an entire fridge dedicated to Bitter Lemon. At my house, it was a special treat. Mostly I remember drinking bottle after bottle when we canoed the Wisconsin River. The adults would crack the cooler and pull out their adult bottles of beer (or plastic cups of strip-and-go-naked) and I would kick back with my icy-cold bottle of Bitter Lemon. We would sip our drinks, nod knowingly, and watch the world float by. It was magic.
Then, tragedy struck. Bitter Lemon disappeared. First there was a hole on the store shelves where the tiny bootles had been. And then even the hole was gone, filled in by something disgusting — grape soda, no doubt.
So you can imagine my surprise and UTTER delight when, last week, I discovered Bitter Lemon at Duane Reade. At the PHARMACY for crying out loud! “What are you DOING here?!” I exclaimed, clutching the one-liter bottle to my bosom. And then I took it home. We had a delicious reunion. Bitter Lemon tastes just like I remember. Why yes, Tommy, you can go home again.