The Clean and Melodramatic Lemon

Dirty lemon bitch

It has been said in the past that some of the fruit in restaurants may not be as clean as it should be. Or clean at all. Particularly lemons which come out of the box, onto the cutting board and then into your drink. Those lemons are covered with the fingerprints of every migrant worker from Southern California and beyond. I have written about that before, here. But I want to retract part of that statement and say that sometimes lemons are supremely sterile and sanitized. It does happen, but sometimes it’s an accident.

At my job, we don’t have someone who washes our dishes. We put the glasses in a rack and carry them downstairs to the dishwasher and run them ourselves. Since it’s just a cocktail place, it’s not that big of a deal. I dumped a glass into the rack and saw a lemon wedge fall into the bottom of the rack and assumed that it fell through the cracks and into the bus tub below. When I carried the rack downstairs, I noticed that the lemon wedge was still at the bottom of the rack when I put the glasses in the dishwasher. “Oh well, it’ll fall out in the wash cycle,” I theorized and pressed the start button. A few minutes later when I was unloading the hot, clean glassware, I noticed that the lemon wedge was still there. It had survived the wash cycle and was now the cleanest fruit in the place, with the exception of a couple of performers who are pretty fruity and probably pretty clean. But it was definitely the cleanest lemon in the place. I could have reached down into the rack to pick up the lemon and toss it into the trash can, but I decided to leave it there and started refilling the rack with more dirty glasses. Again, it went through the dishwasher and the lemon persisted. Throughout the night, that damn lemon wedge went through the dishwasher at least seven or eight times and it just kept on hanging’ on. This is what I imagine the lemon wedge to be saying and you should pretend that it is being performed by Meryl Streep ala Sophie’s Choice or Scarlett O’Hara in her big “I’ll never go hungry again” moment in Gone With the Wind:

I am lemon. I was dirty but now I’m clean. Lost, but now I’m found. I shall make up for all my dirty brother and sister lemon wedges and will represent clean drink garnishes for everyone across the land. Every other lemon and lime slice that tonight went into a Cosmo or vodka/tonic was unclean, but I have suffered 182° temperatures, soap, steam, darkness and the fear of the unknown so that someday I can go into a serving of iced tea and not contaminate the side of the glass. I am clean, hear me roar. Take me, oh server, and let me rest inside a Diet Coke so that I can enhance the taste of it while not adding filth and germs. For my uncleanliness has been washed away along with the shame that I carried for being such an unclean lemon wedge. I have been sanitized. I have been sterilized. I have been Jet Dried. As God is my witness, I’ll never be dirty again. (cue: orchestra music.)

At the end of the night I threw that tired soggy ass lemon wedge into the garbage can and dragged the bag of trash to the street.


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13 thoughts on “The Clean and Melodramatic Lemon

  1. Pingback: 10 Things Your Restaurant Won’t Tell You? Whatever. | the bitchy waiter

  2. Eden

    OT – I totally read the title of this particular post as "The Clean and Homodramatic Lemon" Which was equally funny to me at the time. :)I have sense seen the light. Still funny and redundant though. BTW – I sooo expected you to put that lemon in somebody's diet coke and them ask you what made it taste so good. How responsible of you not to.

  3. Wendy

    Yep, i agree with the Empress:i just KNEW you were gonna say you put it on some tightwad, scrawny-ass, sourpuss, crybaby's glass.You got me!I'm glad you didn't do it, though.Love ya Bitchy!=-)

  4. The Empress

    Only you could manage to write an entire post about the adventure of a lemon wedge that survives eight rounds in the dishwasher. …Very impressed that you didn't save the lemon and serve it up to the next sour puss that ended up in your section, like that tea bitty from yesterday!

  5. Tony Van Helsing

    Was it lemon scented dishwasher detergent? If it was I would have been interested to see if the wedge had it's lemonyness enhanced until it became some sort of uber-lemon.@Bitchy, of course we are cool mate. I love this blog.

  6. Anonymous

    We still use fingerbowls at my restaurant for a couple things like crab legs and ribs. They're a huge pain in the ass and no one uses the damn things. In fact, I once had a customer say to me upon taking out a fingerbowl, "What's this? I didn't order any soup!"

    1. Patti

      My sister was born in 1948, so she had years of lemony goodness of fingerbowls before I came along in 1956. I only saw them a few times. Anyway, the fam was eating at some ritzy, fingerbowly place, and Linda looks up at Mom and says, “Can I have some more of that hot lemonade?” Mom was suitably horrified, lol. I think of this about half the time when someone orders hot water with lemon, hehehe. It’s subversive thoughts like these that make waiting tables survivable.

  7. Waiting

    It's called a Fingerbowl. It's a bowl with warm water and lemon or rose petals. It's traditionally served before dessert. Most places don't serve it anymore but you would be shocked at how many people (mostly from outside the U.S.) request one. It is used to clean your hands in lieu of excusing yourself to wash your hands in the restrooms. This practice has been replaced by your server giving you warm, wet towels in BBQ joints.


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