Aubrey was preparing a nice dinner for when his wife, Shona, got home from work. It wasn’t a special, special occasion, but nonetheless it was special enough. It was their thirteenth wedding anniversary.
Aubrey decided on nothing too fancy. He was going to poach salmon on a bed of sliced lemon. He would make a dill and mustard sauce, accompanied by potato and bean salad. Then all would be topped off with his wife’s favourite, rhubarb pie.
He was just beginning to prepare the meal when he realized he needed a lemon and had omitted getting one at the supermarket. Not to worry. His next door neighbour had a huge lemon tree, laden with fruit. In fact it was so close to the boundary fence that Aubrey could simply have reached over and plucked one. But Audrey was not one to do that.
He would visit Mrs. Geraldine Trapski and ask if he could have a lemon. Incidentally, Mrs. Trapski was renowned for her generosity. She was involved in the Girl Guides and had even been given a special medal after she had donated a not-so-small château in the mountains for the girls to use. She had also been seen (although some claimed it was a little ostentatious) putting a tin of beans in the bin for the poor at the supermarket. “Oh no!” Mrs. Trapski had said in a slightly louder voice when asked about it, “I always give something to the poor.”
Of course, this has little or nothing to do with this story. Aubrey needed a lemon and Mrs. Trapski had a tree-full. Aubrey knocked on Mrs. Trapski’s door.
“Good morning! Look, I was about to poach some salmon steaks and realized I don’t have a lemon. I was wondering if it was possible to borrow a lemon.”
“Borrow a lemon? Are you intending to bring it back?” joked Mrs. Trapski. “I’ve had some unusual requests today but nothing like this! Only this morning the Girl Guides phoned to say a window latch in their château that I donated needed fixing. Of course I’ll pay for it, I said. And then – you won’t believe this – at the supermarket I placed a small jar of what the British call gherkins but I really think the French word for them, cornichons, had a bit more class. But when I placed the jar in the poor bin the shop assistant exclaimed, the poor don’t eat that stuff. Goodness me! So I brought the jar home. I can’t stand the things myself so I threw them away. It was terribly wasteful of the shop assistant to force me into doing that. Waste not, want not has always been my motto. And in answer to your request for a lemon, the answer is no. Grow your own.”
Aubrey returned home with his tail between his legs, or he would’ve if he’d had a tail. Mrs Geraldine Trapski left home half an hour latter to attend her Bridge Evening, the snob, just as Aubrey’s wife Shona arrived home.
“Dinner will be a little late tonight,” said Aubrey. “I haven’t started it yet. We’re having salmon steaks poached on a bed of lemon slices from two large lemons.”