Photo by Jessica CalkinsIt was time for dessert—one evening after dinner, the next night after a movie and still later that week after a concert—and my date ordered a lemon bar. This had gotten to the point where it went without saying. Then, suddenly, it reached the point where I couldn't let it go without saying . . . something.
See, it wasn't the same date. And now that I thought about it, it wasn't just that week, either. And it wasn't only when I was with dates; it happened with relatives, friends, co-workers. But it was only when I was with women.
Finally, it just landed on me—kinda like all those dessert bills added into one—that I had been unconsciously observing this phenomena for years at restaurants, coffeehouses, bakeries, supermarkets, potlucks, bake sales and even at work, where thoughtful colleagues brought in plates of citrussy home-made sweets fresh from their kitchen ovens.
Chicks dig lemon bars!
Hey, you take your Truths with a capital T where you can get them, and I think I'm onto something with this connection between women and the contradictory little confection called a lemon bar.
And it's not just that women order them all the time.
Lemon bars are simultaneously sweet and tart, crunchy and gooey, and they're dusted with a powdered sugar that is sieved so talcum-powder-fine that inhaling too hard while taking a bite can set off coughing like an attic of asbestos. Is there a better way to say "woman"?
Well, of course there is. This one works pretty well, though. Extolling the similarities between women and their lemon bars doesn't piss them off—not the way comparing them to pastry usually would. There's no way, for example, to even consider this conversation with a Bundt cake.
But women do order lemon bars all the time.
I began a survey after my outburst in the coffeehouse that night—beginning with the waitress who had just taken my date's lemon-bar order.
"Do women order a lot of the lemon bars you sell here?" I asked.
"Now that I think about it," the waitress answered, her eyes widening, "almost all of them!"
This quick Q&A has been repeated all over OC—over the counter at Diedrich in Irvine's University Park, beside a table at the Gypsy Den in Costa Mesa, after taking a number in the bakery/deli at the Ralphs market in Fullerton.
Most women are willing to acknowledge their lust for lemon bars, but the wording sometimes gets weird.
"Love 'em!" Stacy gushed simply.
"They're great," said Veronica, not looking up from her computer. "My fingers are all the same size."
"Oh, my God, lemon bars!" said Lara as she smoked a cigarette. "I have a real purse."
Every woman at a small dinner party in Long Beach—Darls, Elizabeth, Nancy and Barbara—got squirmy when I mentioned lemon bars. I worried it might offend Gina, the hostess, who'd carefully planned her menu. But when it was time for dessert, she brought out lemon bars.
Why do chicks dig lemon bars?
"Maybe you could chalk it up to summertime," said Celeste, looking at her friend Sandy for affirmation.
"Maybe because lemon feels lighter and healthier than, say, whatever," said Sandy, nodding back at Celeste.
Then they both laughed. "Naaaaaah!" they said.
Like much of a male-female interaction, discussion of lemon bars can get sketchy.
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A woman with a hangover who was awakened by my phone call phoned back a half-hour later—enraged she couldn't drift back to sleep because she couldn't stop thinking about lemon bars.
Other women worried whether their admission of this passion might be used against them.
"We don't like to be easily pigeonholed," said Leslie, and I figured I knew what she meant until she indicated she meant, um, something else. "A man with a lemon bar certainly doesn't hurt his chances of pigeonholing me."
"Yes, I love lemon bars a lot," said Annabel. "They're not my favorite, but I love lemon bars. If it's good lemon. Then I start to drool. I go into a trance-like state. I don't know. I'm a closet lemon-bar-eater. 'Cause they're goooood."